A Bexley councillor has claimed that neighbours of a Welling pub suspected of breaching lockdown rules have been “too afraid to speak out for fear of reprisal” from revellers in the past.

Footage of pub-goers lingering inside, using the toilets and buying open bottles of alcoholic drinks was also played at a licensing review hearing of the Green Man pub.

Bexley’s licensing sub-committee met on Friday to discuss what action would be taken against the pub after a police visit on May 30 triggered the review.

Metropolitan Police said they visited the pub after receiving multiple calls from neighbours concerned that social distancing measures were being flouted, after it opened up for off-sales.

PC Mark Evans, presenting to the virtual meeting on behalf of the police, said some callers had said there was 100 revellers milling out the front of the pub or on the nearby Shoulder of Mutton green.

He added that police who attended had “noticed, in their own experience, that some of these customers were intoxicated”.

He played security tape which showed patrons buying open bottles, lingering inside, and using indoor toilets “which shouldn’t have been open during that stage of lockdown”.

He added police were not looking to revoke the licence of the pub, but were instead looking to have the designated premises supervisor removed from the licence, as well as having off-sales barred and the use of the beer garden cut at 11pm.

Ward member for East Wickham, Steven Hall said that he was “representing several residents who are sadly too afraid to speak out for fear of reprisal” from pub-goers.

He said that he had heard from residents who claimed they’d suffered “verbal abuse” over the last 15 years from pub patrons after complaining about “noise and rowdy behaviour” at the site.

Cllr Hall said residents had subsequently told him about their concerns over the number of people standing around drinking on the Shoulder of Mutton green on May 30.

However, the ward member added the pub “generally has a good reputation”, had a right to sell off-sales, and there was no evidence it had sold alcohol to  intoxicated revellers or the underage.

The representative for the wife-and-husband management duo of the pub, Steven and Lisa Cobbold, told councillors the pair had “run the pub without issue” for 22 years, except for one 2014 noise complaint.

The representative added there had been no previous concerns brought by the police or licensing authority against the pub, stating that the pair “always strive to work proactively and collaboratively” to address any issues.

She said it was a “source of deep regret” for the pair to front the licensing committee and that they had strived to create a community, family-friendly venue at the pub.

“Mr Cobbold says he has suffered considerable anguish with rumours that he was arrested, fined and lost his licence. Mrs Cobbold’s health has been affected by the stress of the proceedings,” their representative said.

She said she hoped the committee would see the incident as an “error of judgement by people who are otherwise very careful to ensure they uphold the law” and it was “not a case of wilful or complete disregard for the law or people’s safety”.

She also rejected suggestions patrons were drinking inside the premises – instead saying customers were “taking a little sip” to prevent spillage after being served at the bar.

The relevance of police wanting to restrict the hours of use of the garden was also questioned, while the committee was also told that removing off-sales from the licence would have a heavy economic impact on the business.

She accepted Mrs Cobbold, as the designated premises supervisor on the day, should have taken some “stricter measures” like closing off the car park completely, but that public houses were currently operating in “challenging times” where the rules are constantly changing due to Covid-19.

A decision is set to be published publicly this week.