Bid to reopen Ipswich’s Grinning Rat just weeks after it lost its licence

PUBLISHED: 15:42 06 August 2019 | UPDATED: 21:35 06 August 2019

The Grinning Rat  Picture: SAM DAWES

The Grinning Rat Picture: SAM DAWES

A bid to reopen the Grinning Rat pub in St Helen’s Street is set to be made to Ipswich council later this year.

The borough's licensing sub-committee cancelled the pub's drinks licence in May after hearing about a shopping list of issues at the once-popular town centre music venue.

Now the building's owners, Elizabeth Holdings, have applied for a new licence for the premises which would be operated by a new pub manager.

They have applied for the licence through a firm of solicitors based in Hull - but the borough will be seeking more information about how the pub might be run before it considers the application.

Because the licence was revoked by a meeting of councillors, the sub-committee would probably need to reconvene before a new licence was issued - it could not just be handled by council officers.

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At May's hearing, evidence was produced showing that the pub had been open long after its permitted hours, there were CCTV images of people fighting in the outside area of the pub and police also suspected that it was being used for drug-dealing.

There should have been 
CCTV showing the pub in operation at all times - but there were hours or images that were missing when they were requested by the police.

Grinning Rat landlord Luke Hughes told the sub-committee that he had employed a manager at the pub and accepted that he had "taken his eye off the ball".

A spokesman for the council said officers and councillors would need more information about the plans for the pub before any consideration was granted to awarding a new drinks licence.

Until about five years ago, the Grinning Rat had a reputation as one of Ipswich's leading music pubs - a reputation that started when it was still called the Olive Leaf in the 1990s.

It was also one of the first pubs in town to become popular with LGBT+ community and continued to have a strong community feel even though there are three other pubs very close by - The Dove Street Inn, the Water Lily and the County of Suffolk.

We tried to contact Elizabeth Holdings to find out the company's plans for the pub in the future, but the manager was not able to respond to our calls about how it hoped to reopen the Grinning Rat.

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