It’s long been known, locally, that the Wolverhampton-based Express & Star newspaper is no great friend of the political left, so much so that it long ago earned itself the nickname of the ‘Excess & Swastika’ for the rather obvious right-wing bias of much of its content.
Even by the E&S’s usual standards, some of the omissions of fact in an article that made the front page of the print edition on Saturday, make one begin to wonder quite how far the paper is ‘leaning to port’ these days.
PUB FACES THE LOSS OF ITS LICENCE
A Tipton pub that was at the centre of a machete attack, shooting and brawls is set to lose its licence after a request from police to the council.
Nothing too unusual there, you might think. Most areas, after all, have at least one ‘rough’ pub that’s better known for the problems caused by its regular punters than for the quality of it beer.
This is just a local interest story, then… or at least that’s how it looks until you find out the name of the pub in question.
The Lagoon in High Street, Princess End, will learn its fate next Tuesday after police asked Sandwell Council to revoke its licence.
The Lagoon does indeed have a bad reputation locally, but its local notoriety stems from something rather more that simply incidents of violence on its premises - the pub is also what amounts to the local headquarters of the BNP in Tipton. It is (or was, as I’m informed that it is currently closed, pending Tuesday’s meeting) both the favoured watering hole of the BNP’s local ‘foot soldiers’ and the usual venue for its meetings, a fact that you might have thought that the Express & Star would have mentioned in its article, especially when one has read the report that Sandwell Council’s Licencing Panel is set to consider on Tuesday, which reveals that its actually the Police who are seeking the closure of the pub on the ground of ‘the prevention of crime and disorder and public safety‘.
Knowing that you might well wonder quite what would possess any licencee in their right mind to allow their pub to be used as the de facto local headquarters of a far-right racist political party, let alone one in which trouble is know to follow closely in its wake?
Well, the rest of the report, which details two of incidents about which the Police have expressed particular concerns, also provides the answer to that question, even if the newspaper, for reasons known only to itself, fails to make that answer explicit to its readers.
West Midlands Police has put together a report listing problems at the venue which will be considered by licensing bosses.
The document details incidents that occurred at the pub throughout last year.
It states that on June 2 a fight took place in The Lagoon between three customers.
The report said designated premises supervisor Jamie Lloyd separated two parties involved and allowed one man to leave. “The departing participant at this time had received what can only be described as a good beating, with loss of teeth,” police said.
The following day the victim of the attack returned to the pub with another man who handed him a semi-automatic weapon which was fired at and narrowly missed Mr Lloyd.
In November it was reported that people in the bar had been threatened by a man wielding a machete and that Mr Lloyd had again been the target of the attack.
Before moving on, I should correct on minor omission in the article, Jamie Lloyd, who is named as the designated premises supervisor by the Express and Star is also cited as the Licence holder for the premises in the report to Sandwell Council, but that omission is of little significance when compared to the other major piece of information omitted from the article, which relates to the activities of Mr Lloyd when he’s not engaged in running a pub.
Jamie Lloyd, so my sources in the area assure me, is none other than Councillor James Lloyd, BNP member, councillor for the same Princes End Ward in which the Lagoon is situated and current leader of the BNP group on Sandwell Council - an assertion that appears to be confirmed by several articles on the BNP’s own website in which Councillor Lloyd is routinely referred to as ‘Jamie’ . In fact, and by way of irony, this photograph (below) of Councillor Lloyd, which was used to promote his parliamentary candidacy at the last general election (in which he stood in West Bromwich West) has been identified by my sources as actually having been taken on the car park of The Lagoon.
Now I don’t know about you, but I can’t help being just a tad curious as to why the Express & Star appear not have made the connection between ‘Jamie Lloyd’, publican and licencee of a pub that is well known as the BNP’s HQ in Tipton and BNP Councillor James Lloyd, not least when a qucik scan of the local electoral roll reveals that there is but one James Lloyd listed on the electoral roll in Tipton.
Has the paper simply not done its homework on this story, or does it not think that the people of Tipton have a legimate interest in knowing that when their Council’s licencing panel meets on Tuesday, the question before is not simply a matter of the future of the pub itself - my understanding is that it is to be sold off by its owners for redevelopment as flats, anyway, but also whether a fellow councillor, one who sits on no less than ten different council committees as BNP group leader, is unfit to run a local pub to the extent that even his customers appear to have been trying to kill him?
As things stand, it seems doubtful that tomorrow’s licencing panel can arrive at any conclusion other than that The Lagoon should close, and the pub certainly will not be missed by its neighbour. But then spare a thought for Tipton’s other licensees who, on the closure of The Lagoon, now have the face the possibility of acquring the custom of a its former regulars (and everything that goes with such dubious company) - my local source suggest that the landlord on one Tipton pub, which has already had the doubtful pleasure of the BNP’s company since the closure of The Lagoon, has already taken to closing his pub at lunchtimes so as to limit his personal exposure to them.
If anyone at the Express and Star would like to respond to this article and explain how and why it managed to miss a rather interesting (obvious) and newsworthy angle on this story then, as is always the case, the comments boxes are open.