A PUB’S licence could be reviewed after police said they discovered widespread evidence of drug use in a major raid on Friday night.
About 40 officers, some with sniffer dogs, swooped on the Nelson pub in Between Towns Road, Cowley, Oxford, at about midnight and seized a quantity of cash and substances believed to be Class-A drugs.
Thames Valley Police said after swabbing throughout the pub, officers found drug paraphernalia and “widespread evidence of drug use”.
But last night manager of the pub David Brewerton defended its reputation and said there was a zero tolerance on illegal substances. The 42-year-old said he had taken the decision to close the pub following the raid and that there would be a meeting today to discuss its reopening.
He said: “When I first went in there five years ago there was an issue with drugs but I have dealt with the people involved in the problem.
“I have always co-operated with the authorities and we have a zero tolerance on drug use. The police said they had intelligence, but I have not been aware of anything.”
A 55-year-old man was arrested during the raid and later charged with possessing Class-A drugs with intent to supply.
Officers from Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service took part in the raid and said they found breaches of fire regulations within the private properties attached to the pub.
Thames Valley Police said they will now consider reviewing the pub’s licence alongside Oxford City Council.
Named Operation Relight, the investigation is a bid by the police to crack down on the supply of Class-A drugs.
After the raid Oxford police commander Superintendent Christian Bunt thanked Cowley residents for their support.
He said: “I realise that carrying out such warrants can be upsetting for the local community, so I thank residents for their co-operation and patience. We will be conducting extra patrols in the area to provide reassurance.
“Moving forward, we will now be liaising closely with the management of the pub to look at any ongoing issues there.
“Based on the findings from the raid we will consider if we have sufficient evidence to take the licence to review.”
Jess Arnett, of St Omer Road, Cowley, said she saw a number of police cars from an upstairs window as she was getting ready for bed.
The 29-year-old said: “I saw all the commotion and didn’t know what was going on, although I could see it was all to do with the pub.
“The whole thing was pretty dramatic, but I’m glad the police are trying to stop people dealing drugs in this area.”
South Central Ambulance Service and Trading Standards also attended the pub.
Richard Adams, environmental protection manager at the city council, said the operation showed agencies working together to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour in Oxford.
Anyone with information can call Thames Valley Police on 101.
Nobody from Spirit Pub Company, named as the premises licence holder for the pub, was available to comment.
Kenston McIntosh, 55, of Freeland Road, Oxford, has been charged with intent to supply
Class-A drugs, namely cocaine, crack cocaine and heroin.
McIntosh is in custody and is due to appear at Oxford Magistrates’ Court this morning.