Outcry at bar being branded a drugs den

Marcus Hrubesch of the Solo Bar in Sleaford. EMN-190803-105801001
Marcus Hrubesch of the Solo Bar in Sleaford. EMN-190803-105801001

A Sleaford bar owner has received an outpouring of support from local figures after police called for a review of his licence due to an alleged ‘serious drug issue’ on his premises.

North Kesteven’s Alcohol and Entertainment Licensing Sub-Committee will meet this morning (Wednesday) to consider the licence of The Solo Bar in Market Street.

The premises has been run by husband and wife Marcus and Tracy Hrubesch since 2014, with Mr Hrubesch as the Designated Licence Superviser. Licensing officers allege ‘perceived failings’ of the licence holders have failed to tackle the drugs issue, contravening their licence. However Mr Hrubesch says the advice and anti-drug measures suggested are already in place, including door staff.

He added: “We are a family run business of 15 employees. I am doing the best I can, and we have put measures in place and a drugs policy in our contracts. I am totally against drugs and welcome a police presence. To say we have a serious drugs issue is a nonsense.”

According to the report to committee members, in 2017 the police received six intelligence reports regarding drug use at the Solo Bar, and that persons linked to the supply of drugs were using the premises. In January 2018, as a result of the intelligence reports, Lincolnshire Police and the Council’s Licensing Officer conducted drug testing using a machine which gives very accurate readings of the amounts and type of drugs present at the premises. On that visit high readings for the presence of cocaine were found throughout the premises in places including the bar area and the toilets. Advice was offered to frustrate the use of drugs in the premises. Further testing in September 2018 showed a mixed picture, but a final visit in January 2019 showed readings were only partially reduced.

Police say the readings are consistent with ‘recent and direct contact’ with measurable quantities of the drug. They also referred to an incident in the bar in 2017 when alcohol was said to have been sold after hours.

They say there has been ample time to resolve issues and have “no confidence in the licence holder’s ability to enforce robust solutions to the drugs issue”. They implied ‘apathy’ and ‘poor management and lack of understanding’.

They suggest removing Mr Hrubesch as DPS, suspending the licence to allow changes, reducing drinking hours, door staff and introduction of a drug policy, training and record keeping.

Mr Hrubesch said: “I had not had a drugs related visit from Lincolnshire Police in five years and I have been a DPS for 10 years. We have not got a serious drugs issue - we are used by the William Alvey School, the Lionesses and Alzheimers’ UK.”

Representatives of such bodies, businesses and a former forensics officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have written in support, insisting they have seen no evidence of a drugs issue.