Portmanor landlord Geoff Charles 'over the moon' after police bid to shut pub South Norwood down thrown out
The landlord of a popular Crystal Palace fans' pub has said he is "over the moon" after winning a battle with the police over a bid to shut the venue down.
The Portmanor in South Norwood had faced having its licence revoked after the police claimed it had "embraced" football hooligans.
The dispute centred on the Holmesdale Fanatics, a boisterous section of fans who drink in the Portland Road pub before matches and that licensing officers alleged were "a particularly anti-social group of individuals who have repeatedly displayed little regard for the local community".
But Croydon Council's sub-licensing committee, in a meeting last week, rejected an application by police to effectively shut the pub down and dismissed suggestions the pub's customers were a cause for concern.
Geoff Charles, the Portmanor's landlord, had argued many of the police's grievances - such as a flare being let off by on Palace supporters' coach in Liverpool - had nothing to do with his pub.
And Piers Warne, solicitor for the pub's owner Punch Taverns, suggested much of the material included in the police application had been included "with no real evidence" to "beef up the case".
He pointed to a Wikipedia entry, quoted by the police, on fanatical football fans known as ultras, which referred to extreme political ideologies and racism.
Mr Warne said: "This appears to be suggesting that the Holmesdale Fanatics somehow share these traits, albeit there is no evidence to support this allegation."
He added there was no evidence that attacks on a young couple and a police car in Portland Road earlier in January, both cited in the police application, were carried out by Portmanor customers.
Guy Ladenburg, representing the Metropolitan Police, said officers had seen an improvement at the pub and no longer requested its licence be revoked, but asked for the removal of Mr Charles as designated premises supervisor, claiming he was "struggling to contain his own customers".
But councillors ruled the landlord should could remain in his position if the pub adopted stricter licensing conditions, including increasing security staff from two to three on match days.
Mr Charles, who DJ'd at the Portmanor before taking charge in 2010, said he was "over the moon" after the decision.
The 49-year-old said: "We won. I am really pleased, but I'm not gloating. I look forward to a good working relationship with the police. We will be on our best behaviour."
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