Harborough pub forced to quickly rebuild its outside space – or face being shut down by Covid inspectors
They are urgently reworking the pub’s Quadrant Courtyard after a visit from the council
A busy Market Harborough pub has been forced to quickly rejig its outside space to continue serving customers – as it faced being shut down on the spot by council Covid inspectors.
Thrilled staff at the Red Lion on Main Street, Great Bowden, reopened on Monday (April 12) amid lockdown rules being eased as regulars queued up to enjoy a drink and a meal again for the first time in months.
But they were stunned when Harborough council environmental health officers turned up on Wednesday – and laid down the coronavirus law.
So general manager Miles Uppal immediately called in his team of builders – and they urgently reworked the pub’s Quadrant Courtyard to reprieve them from the axe.
The latest incident comes after council officers ordered Market Harborough’s Aldwinckles Coffee House on Church Street to close just hours after reopening on Monday because their courtyard wasn’t “outdoors” enough.
Miles told the Harborough Mail: “The council’s officers came to see us here on Wednesday.
“They told us that we were not Covid-compliant.
“I couldn’t believe it because we’ve spent so much time, money and effort making the Red Lion totally Covid-secure.
“We have got special stable boxes out in the Quadrant with tables and heaters for clients.
“The council’s people told us that we didn’t have 50 per cent air flow in our boxes,” said Miles.
“And they wanted to close us down!
“I wasn’t having that after all that we’ve done to get reopened after such a tough time during the pandemic over the last year.
“So there and then I called in our builders and they got down to work straight away.
“The guys were brilliant.
“They moved around our tables and heaters so that they now sit outside our stable boxes.
“We had seven tables with six people sitting at each one.
“We’ve now lost a table.
“That’s a great shame because we are fully booked up here for the next three weeks and some people now face losing out,” said Miles.
“It’s very frustrating and extremely annoying to say the very least.
“The council is supposed to be getting four square behind local businesses like ours – but this sort of thing obviously doesn’t help us one bit.”
The council’s environmental health officers pointed that the Red Lion’s stable boxes have rooves on, he said.
“But the Quadrant Courtyard is outside in the fresh air.
“It couldn’t be fresher out there.
“It is entirely safe.
“I feel sorry for Aldwinckles café in Market Harborough as well after they were shut the other day,” said Miles.
“We are not big national chains – we are not made of money.
“We reopened the Red Lion last July after it had been shut for over three years.
“We have poured about £250,000 into the Red Lion altogether to make it work,” insisted Miles.
“And the entire community in Great Bowden and beyond has rallied behind us from the start – they love us.
“Local people have been fantastic – and the response since we opened again last Monday has been amazing.
“People just want to pop out and enjoy eating and drinking with us again.
“I am speechless to be honest – I’m lost for words.
“All our staff live in Great Bowden and we buy from local suppliers.
“We do all we can to pump up our local economy in Harborough.
“So this situation over Covid just doesn’t add up.
“But I wasn’t taking no for an answer.
“It would have been much cosier sitting inside our brilliant stable boxes.
“But you’ll still have a great time coming here to enjoy our food and drink – just be sure that you wrap up.”
Miles posted on the Red Lion’s Facebook page: “We have been working closely with the environmental health team @harboroughdc and have agreed a revised table layout for The Quadrant Courtyard.
“Our team of builders led by the unflappable Neil Deadman have repositioned the tables and heaters to be situated outside of our stable boxes but we’re not gonna lie, unfortunately it’s not quite as cosy as before.
“So be sure to bring extra layers and blankets if you like if you have a table booked with us.”
Miles told the Mail: “Local people are right behind us.
“We’ve had over 4,000 views of our video of the Quadrant Courtyard on Facebook.
“It’s gone into orbit.”
A Harborough council spokesman said: “As part of our ongoing Covid spot checks, we were made aware of a potential issue with the use of the outside space at the Red Lion pub and visited the premises on Wednesday and gave appropriate advice.
“The pub was very co-operative and implemented the recommendations.
“A further site visit was undertaken the following day and we were satisfied that the arrangement meets the coronavirus legislation requirements.”
You can read our story earlier this week about how Aldwinckles had to shut after their courtyard was controversially branded not ‘outside’ enough: https://www.harboroughmail.co.uk/business/busy-harborough-cafe-forced-to-shut-just-hours-after-reopening-after-its-outside-space-was-branded-not-outside-enough-by-council-inspector-3199238