Devon pub remains closed a week after Traveller incident

-Credit: (Image: Google Maps)
-Credit: (Image: Google Maps)

A Devon pub has now been closed for a week following an "intimidating" incident involving someone believed to be staying at a Traveller camp. Police have confirmed they were called to the scene.

Last Tuesday (June 4), The Maltings Taphouse and Bottle Shop in Newton Abbot closed earlier than usual following an incident during which a man from a Traveller group staying on Osborne Park reportedly pushed past the pub owner Chris Cutts after being denied entry.

Police were called and reportedly removed the man from the pub. A spokesperson for Devon & Cornwall Police said: "Police received a report of a man having been pushed by another man in a premises on Teign Road at around 6.30pm on 4 June."

Chris says that his decision not to allow Travellers into his premises was not due to discrimination but because of previous experience with people in this particular group. He says that he allowed those staying on Osborne Park in 2023 to enter the pub and use facilities, such as their toilet and free glasses of water. However, he claims that their "kindness was abused" and says that customers were assaulted, stock was stolen and some individuals defecated on the floor.

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As part of a lengthy statement on his website, Chris said: "In early June 2023, a traveller group set up home on Osborne Park, directly outside of our doors. At the Taphouse, we attempted to make them welcome – to treat our new neighbours in the same way we treat everyone.

"Our doors were open to them, including the use of our toilet facilities without the expectation of them being paying customers – as we’d do for everyone. The weather was warm, and we provided free glasses of ice & water to them when requested, and served them as customers on a few occasions.

"Unfortunately, our kindness was abused; customers were assaulted, stock was stolen, individuals defecated on the floor inside our premises, our glassware was repeatedly smashed both inside and outside the premises, I personally had broken glass thrown at me and my car.

"Due to these incidents, when the travellers again arrived on Osborne Park on the 2nd of June this year and I sighted a number of individuals that I recognised from 2023, I made the decision not to allow the travellers into the Taphouse. I have bolded this line because it is key to my decision making.

"Hopefully everyone is aware that this is not about race, ethnicity, or any other form of discrimination. It’s about doing my job to protect the business, our staff, and our customers."

Speaking to DevonLive yesterday (June 10), Chris said: "I can't risk an incident which could lead to our permanent closure or serious injury.

"With no security firms being interested in covering our doors, I don't feel like I can protect the customers or staff, especially after that initial confrontation. We're taking a huge financial hit but we can recover from that, whereas if someone gets hurt".

The Maltings Taphouse has remained closed ever since the incident last Tuesday, with the latest update made this afternoon (June 11). A post on the pub's Facebook page says: "Due to circumstances beyond our control, unfortunately, we are remaining closed this evening. We are really sorry to let you all down!

"We really appreciate all your continued support and we hope to be able to welcome you back soon".

The group of Travellers set up camp on Osborne Park, a Teignbridge District Council-owned site, on Sunday, June 2. A sign on the land states: "Vehicles are prohibited in the park and may be removed without notice."

On Wednesday, June 5, Teignbridge District Council issued a statement saying it was aware of the encampment and had started legal procedures to move the Traveller group on. On Facebook, the authority said: "We are aware of an unauthorised encampment in Osborne Park, Newton Abbot. We are following the relevant legal process to remove this unauthorised encampment."

DevonLive has contacted Teignbridge District Council for an updated comment but has received no response.