A PUB landlord claims he has been forced out of business because he helped the police clamp down on drunken troublemakers.
John Reed, owner of the Kings Head in Blyth for the last 12 years, used to employ 14 staff and turn over around £320,000 a year.
The grade II listed building’s four bars and beer garden attracted around 320 customers a night at weekends, staying open until 2am on Saturdays and Sundays.
Mr Reed was also on the committee of the Blyth pubwatch scheme and claims to have worked closely with the police to keep yobs away from bars in the town.
However, the 67-year-old says police ordered him to close at midnight instead, warning him that he would lose his licence if he didn’t agree.
The Bridge Street pub, just 20 yards from the town’s police station, is recorded as being the scene of 74 incidents and 18 crimes last year, but Mr Reed claims many of those were nothing to do with his premises.
He has now shut the pub and put it up for sale, laying all 14 staff off, saying he could not make a profit if he was forced to close earlier.
Mr Reed said: “I’ve been made a scapegoat by the police.
“Some of the incidents being used against us are where we have called the police because we’ve had to stop people barred by the pubwatch scheme from getting in.
“If there was any trouble, such as a fight or anyone caught with drugs, we did the right thing and called the police every time.
“I’ve been law-abiding all my life, and I’ve always helped the police catch criminals. Now they’ve used this against me to close us down.
“Many of the incidents they used against us weren’t even connected to the Kings Head. They involved people fighting in the street or going to the police station for help.
“Looking back, I wonder if I should have just turned a blind eye and not called the police when there was trouble. That would have kept them happy, kept their statistics down and I’d still have a business, but I wouldn’t do that.”
Supt Mick Pearson said: “Northumbria Police cannot comment on the specific accusations being made by Mr Reed as they are currently being investigated by the force following a complaint.
“However, the Kings Head was the licensed premises in Blyth with the highest number of incidents and crimes, and because of this, it has been the focus of police attention, as would any other pub which causes the police or public concern.”
Mr Reed has taken his case to Blyth Valley MP Ronnie Campbell.
Mr Campbell said: “I want to speak to the police about this before I comment fully.
“I helped set up pubwatch about seven years ago to try to stop trouble. At the time, publicans told me they were scared to report trouble because it went down as a black mark against them.
“If that’s what is happening here, it means pubwatch isn’t worth a jot, and we’re back to square one.”