New landlady aims to turn around drugs raid pub with ‘country and western’ music

The HQ pub, which was raided on March 11
The HQ pub, which was raided on March 11

A pub in Northampton forced to close after a drugs raid is to reopen under a landlady who has come out of retirement.

Northamptonshire Police executed a drugs warrant at the HQ in Great Russell Street, The Mounts, on March 11, finding drugs on a number of people and arresting a DJ.

Councillors on the licensing sub-committee of Northampton Borough Council suspended the licence two days later, but have now lifted it after hearing that it would in future be managed by the former landlady of the Spread Eagle pub for 18 years, Breda O’Connor.

Asked by the committee why she was coming out of retirement, she said that “the deal was a very good one and she was enthusiastic about it.”

The minutes of the meeting continued: “She believed the premises were in the right location, with many houses nearby, and that she could turn the pub around.”

Police had told the hearing some staff were aware of drugs at the premises but had not been challenging the people involved.

PC Dave Bryan said he believed the drug users were to some extent attracted to the HQ, which had regular Reggae nights, by the music. He said the DJs would have been aware of this.

He said: “This was a classic case of the problem being not the premises themselves but the persons managing them.

“The premises played a certain type of music which attracted people who used drugs and this had been encouraged by the management.

“PC Bryan knew the proposed DPS (designated premises supervisor, Mrs O’Connor) and stated that she would run a completely different operation to that which had been in place before the premises licence had been suspended.”

Mrs O’Connor is set to reopen the HQ at the end of May, possibly over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend.

She is aiming to give the pub a community feel and will be playing a different kind of music, namely Country and Western, Irish and 50s and 60s songs.

She told councillors she would also see that security or door staff keep an eye on the nearby car park to make sure drug users did not continue to hang around.

The applicants said Mrs O’Connor will see out the lease originally taken out by the previous designated premises supervisor, which has about two years to run.

She would then be offered a further 15 year lease, which, if not taken up, would see the pub earmarked for flats.