Pub near Milton Keynes gets new booze licence after councillors try to reach village compromise

The White Hart, Sherington
The White Hart, Sherington

A pub has been granted a new alcohol licence after councillors were called on to decide an issue that has split a village.

The owners of The White Hart, in Gun Lane, Sherington, applied to Milton Keynes Council for a new licence to allow them to serve alcohol in their outdoor area.

But the issue divided opinions in the village, with residents lodging their support and opposition to the application. Opponents said they worried that it would be the thin end of the wedge and would lead to their lives being regularly blighted by anti-social behaviour, noise, and parking problems.

Opponent David Williams told Monday's meeting of the Licensing Sub-Committee he has no objection to the way the pub is run but when events are held “you have to shut down one’s life” for the duration. “You have to decide to go away or to stay and look after your property.”

He claimed that problems included people “peeing behind the lynch gate in the church” because the pub does not have enough toilets.

“We can put up with a few events if we have to but we don’t want anymore,” he said. He also claimed that people are routinely banned from the pub if they complain, but proprietor Keith Shepherd, and manager Giles Fern, denied this.

Mr Shepherd said they wanted to have a licence to cover the pub’s outdoor area, which was developed after the pub suffered a devastating fire in 2017. This would mean that they did not have to go through the time-consuming process of applying for temporary licences every time that they wanted to hold an event.

Mr Shepherd told the committee of three councillors that they have held four events every year for the past 15 years. He did not anticipate many more than that because they are a village pub.

“There is no way we can suddenly get all these events,” he said. “It costs people £3,500 for a marquee.”

He added: “Most of the events are village-related. We’ve had a folk night, an 80th birthday party and a Motown night. There isn’t the market out there to create a nightclub.”

Licensing officer Ed Fisher suggested that the councillors might like to set a condition to limit the number of events because “some residents think this might be the thin end of the wedge.

“The only issue here is the number of external events. It is a balancing act between residents.”

After a brief adjournment to discuss the issue in private, the councillors decided to grant the new licence with the addition of a number of conditions.

Cllr Mick Legg (Lab, Bletchley West), who was chairing the meeting, said the committee wanted to limit the number of external events to six every year. They also want a “telephone hotline” to be publicised where residents can call the pub with their complaints.

“Any issues must be dealt with in a professional manner, and customers treated with respect,” he said.