Smoking rebel landlord loses licence: Audio

SMOKE ban rebel landlord Hamish Howitt has lost his licence – but he has vowed to fight the decision.

The ruling was based on health and safety concerns – not his conviction for allowing smoking on his premises.

Press play to hear from Hamish and Coun Norman Hardy

A Blackpool Council Licensing Panel decided to revoke his licence for Delboy's Sports Bar, on Rigby Road, central Blackpool, following advice from trading standard officers.

Ben Williams, barrister acting on behalf of Blackpool Council Trading Standards, said Mr Howitt showed "a lack of proactivity in implementing health and safety measures."

He said there was no evidence of risk assessments and officers deemed an air conditioning unit and the staircase to the cellar unfit when they visited the premises on November 9.

He also told the panel Mr Howitt failed two under-age test purchases in the last three years.

Mr Williams added: "He does get round to doing things but only after a lot of requests. There has been a continued disrespect for the law.

Revocation is the only way forward. It's not a vendetta. Prosecution is the last resort but the health and safety records are very poor."

But Mr Howitt, of Park Road, who became the first publican in the country to be convicted of breaching new smoking legislation, has vowed to appeal against this decision.

He said: "There is a campaign of hatred against me. My premises are safe, I would not put my family, customers or staff in danger.

"I clearly think it's totally over the top. Everything has been fixed now. I'm going to appeal against it. I think the court will accept it as being un-just. I was not on trial because of health and safety, I was on trial for smoking."

Mr Howitt, 55, showed the panel a letter from Anjum Khan, health and safety executive at Workplace Health Connect, a government-funded service providing advice to small businesses, dated April 2006 which described his firm's "strong approach towards health and safety".

He also said he deplores under-age drinking and sends staff on health and safety courses.

But Coun Norman Hardy, who chaired the licensing panel at Blackpool Town Hall yesterday, said health and safety was the council's top priority. Mr Howitt has 21 days to appeal against the decision.