A Reading pub with reported issues with drugs and violence has kept its licence but will have to implement a series of new conditions.

Police had asked the council to shut down The Pheasant, on Southampton Road, but the council said there was “insufficient evidence to warrant revocation of the licence as a proportionate response”.

Reading Borough Council’s Licensing committee instead chose to simply replace the current conditions with more than 20 new ones.

READ MORE: Reading pub listed as 'community asset'

Councillor Karen Rowland, chairing the committee, said: “With this decision, this committee has placed a great deal of faith in the current new team.

“We have seen appreciable efforts to turn the pub around, in terms of expensing with the old in an effort to turn it into more of a community pub as befitting its location and neighbourhood.

“Our conditions are indicative of that desire but also take very much into consideration that the issues of the past will not be able to be revisited.

“Given the history there, Admiral Taverns is fortunate that we believe and have faith in your statements and your promises to right this ship.”

Thames Valley Police (TVP) had recommended a reduction in the opening hours of the pub and tough conditions, such bag searches of all customers entering the pubwhenever door supervisors are employed, if the committee chose to keep the licence in place.

But the committee considered many of the incidents, some of which TVP admitted were unsubstantiated, to be historical and no longer relevant to the current management of the pub, which has been run by Q Inns since late 2019 and in-house manager Jane Brooker since March 2020.

It chose to impose less strict conditions than TVP had called for after hearing the case from Admiral Tavern’s legal representative.

Leo Charalambides, legal representative for Admiral Taverns, said to revoke the licence would have been “entirely inappropriate, disproportionate and not based on sound evidence”.

He said: “This case has been exaggerated greatly. The current issues are the incidents in March and August and the visit in November.

“The police have tipped everything in, every scrap of anecdote, gossip and rumour.

“We have a proactive premises supervisor that works with the police and is getting things done.”


He said reported incidents on July 21 and 29 are uncorroborated and dismissed claims that Ms Brooker did not co-operate with the police after the GBH incident in March.

You can read more on the pub’s side of the story on the link below.

READ MORE: Why Reading’s The Pheasant should not be shut down, according to the pub’s management

The management company and manager has already introduced several measures to address the issues, including a ban list for certain clientele, enhancing Covid measures, training and agreed to put in place security on Fridays and Saturdays.

These measures and many other conditions were added to the licence at the meeting.

Thames Valley Police (TVP) had called for the licence to be revoked due to the pub becoming “a haven for criminality”.

PC Simon Wheeler said: “The Pheasant has gained an unfortunate reputation as a violent premises.

“The sad fact is this premises has been mismanaged for a number of years and this has led to a number of violent incidents.

“It is a generally very poorly managed pub. We don’t have any confidence in the premises licence holder.”

You can read more here about why the police felt the pub should have been forced to close.

READ MORE: Spiked bat, attempted GBH and 20-person brawl – Why this pub could be shut down

While council officers also raised concerns, including a lack of compliance with Covid measures during an inspection in August, the committee was impressed enough with the actions taken by the current management to be lenient.

In the meeting, which went on from 9.30am until beyond 3pm on Tuesday, December 1,  Cllr Rowland added that the committee feels “very strongly” that  there should be frequent visits from the police and council ensure the issues are dealt with co-operatively.