Sacked: Pub owners tell Elvington couple to leave after the breach of Covid rules on Remembrance Sunday

1 Dec 2020 @ 7.12 pm
| News

The couple who ran the Grey Horse pub in Elvington say they have been told to leave by its owners after an incident on Remembrance Sunday when they gave out free drinks to people who had observed the 11am silence in the village.

Nigel Cookson and his partner Jo Cashon said Punch Pubs issued them with a termination of employment notice yesterday.

They claim that pub’s owners had been put under “tremendous pressure” by North Yorkshire Police to remove them. Many villagers have reacted with anger at the decision.

Video – The couple spoke to YorkMix a few days before a meeting with Punch

Police were called in on 10 November after complaints that people were drinking and smoking on the premises.

Nigel and Jo say they simply left glasses and some of their own wine and whisky out on benches outside the pub as a gesture to the villagers who may want to toast the memory of those who died.

Under Covid restriction rules police issued a fine. That was then withdrawn but North Yorkshire Police didn’t explain why.

You can read the full police statement here.

Lost home and livelihood

Nigel Cookson and his partner Jo Cashon run The Grey Horse in Elvington. Photograph: David Dunning

On Facebook today (Tuesday) Nigel Cookson wrote: “We feel our case is being dealt with far more harshly than others. For instance, The Coach and Horses in Harrogate – also under the control of the police licensing division – were issued with two warnings over Covid rules.

“They were then prosecuted as per the police statement ‘only as a last resort’, unlike the ‘one strike and you’re out’ applied to ourselves.”

Jo and Nigel accept that it was a mistake to hand out free alcohol – even if it was their own and not pub stock – but say losing their home and jobs is a disproportionate punishment.

“You are all entitled to your opinions about how you feel we acted. All we can offer in support of our actions is our remorse, we have openly admitted in hindsight we shouldn’t have done what we did, even if it was in good faith.

“However, we still steadfastly don’t believe that our actions should be treated so severely under North Yorkshire Police’s ‘last resort’ system, to the extent that we should lose our home and our livelihood.

“We hope reasonable people would agree.”

A hub for locals

There is a lot of support for the couple and a petition to keep them in the pub has more than 1,000 signatures.

Other villagers think the rules have been broken and there must be some action.

YorkMix has asked Punch Pubs to comment and we are waiting for a reply.

‘Bullied into submission’

Many people have reacted with anger on the community Facebook group blaming North Yorkshire Police for over-reacting.

“It was a lapse of judgement, no question, but the punishment is hardly congruent to the infringement,” said one person.

“You’ve admitted mistakes were made, I just hope they’d see sense now and stop this stupidity,” said another.

“I am so very sorry to hear this. I feel you have very much so been bullied into submission,” replied another poster.

The Parish Council has been supportive of the way the couple has run the pub and although they do not condone what happened that Sunday, they think the treatment of Jo and Nigel has been harsh.