Thursday, March 08, 2007

Vineyard and drugs

You may be interested in the following letter sent by mysel
Delivered by hand Saturday February 24th 2007.

Saturday, 24 February 2007

Manager Vineyard
Part of Barracuda Group

Dear Sir

With reference to our telephone conversation today at 11.20am can I confirm with the statements you made over the telephone

1) My daughter Donna and her husband Scott Lawrie were told to leave your premises on Friday February 23rd after being accused of visiting the Ladies toilets on several occasions to use drugs and dealing drugs under the table they were alleged to be sitting at.
2) The accusation was made by an assistant manager who you named as Lee (you refused his surname).
3) This accusation was made, according to your manager after 3 people informed your manager of the incident.
4) Again according to your telephone conversation your Stewards witnessed this and were present when you asked Donna to leave.

Can I bring to your attention the following facts?

1) This was the first time my daughter has been in the Vineyard
2) She was with her husband and not in a group
3) The pair were not seated at a table they were on stools
4) She visited the toilet once
5) They had spent the early part of the evening having a meal then vacated to another pub and returned to the Vineyard later by themselves.
6) When confronted with the accusation my daughter volunteered to be searched as did her husband and she also pointed out that on leaving the toilets she had no coat or handbag.
7) The member of staff who accused her gave his name as Dominic Oxley not Lee no surname as given by yourself?
8) If my daughter had committed a criminal act, which you allege, why was the Police not called?
9) I believe you have CCTV in the Bar if this is the case you will have video evidence of the incident?
10) Is this the policy of yourself and your company not to inform the Police of criminal activities?
11) The Police have been informed of this incident for further reference.

Myself and my family have been actively involved the Community for over 50 years teaching various forms of Martial Arts, I have been a Borough Councillor, Vice Chairman of the local Conservative Association and a Licensee in access of 10 years so our reputation and good standing in the community is of paramount importance.
I commend any establishment for clamping down on illegal drug use but it must be legally and not on a vigilante basis. Hearsay, which is designed to be malicious and is unsubstantiated must be ignored at all time, I believe you have made a slanderous allegation against my daughter.

I await your written reply before my daughter and myself consider any further options.

Further letter

Samantha Potts
Swale Borough Council
Licensing Office

Thursday, 08 March 2007

Dear Samantha Potts

Attached you will find a letter of complaint I have made to the Barracuda Group with reference to the Vineyard, briefly it makes a false and malicious accusation against my daughter, although the accusation maybe a private matter it does throw up some other matters relevant to the licensing of the premises:

1) As you can see it has been 12 days since my written complaint, to date I have no reply either by letter, e-mail or telephone. The company has shown a cavalier attitude to customer’s complaints, the recent publicity in National newspapers with reference to a hooded top proves that this is the only way to get them to respond to complaint. I believe that the public have a right to complain and be listened to.
2) If my daughter had committed a criminal act, which they allege, why was the Police not called? As a licensee myself I believe it is part of my license to report criminality to the Police.
3) The manager and his staff seem very young and inexperienced, this is obvious by the way they handled my daughters situation and the subsequent follow up. An experienced mature licensee would have approached the whole incident in a more diplomatic way and would not have relied on unsubstantiated accusations, which could have provoked a violent incident. The main manager when he returned my initial call even gave the wrong name to the person who ejected my daughter, so something like checking details of the incident was no considered necessary by the manager.
4) Could the whole incident been a ploy to cover the real activities of drug dealers?

I would like this letter brought before the revue panel on Friday, can I suggest that before any extension is issued they check the Vineyards policy on drugs, they also question the companies staffing policies with regard to age and experience, finally they should have some laid down complaints procedure.

Having used the premises on only one occasion I did find the experience quite enjoyable and believe that the Town needs venues like this but it must have the correct management structure other wise it could just become another place for excessive drinking and late night violence. I am not sure it has that management yet.

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