Britain’s first eastern European mayor is stripped of pub licence over ‘blatant disregard’ for Covid laws by letting punters hug, kiss and WRESTLE on Christmas Eve despite Tier Two rules
- Algars Balsevics, 39, breached coronavirus rules at Angel Inn pub in Wisbech
- Mr Balsevics – who is from Latvia – is the Conservative mayor of Wisbech
- Dossier revealed 21 alleged breaches and he had name removed from licence
- Fenland District Council committee described it as ‘totally unacceptable’
Britain’s first eastern European mayor has been stripped of his pub licence after he broke Covid regulations by allowing customers to hug and kiss on Christmas Eve.
Algars Balsevics, 39, was found to have a ‘blatant disregard’ for coronavirus rules at his Angel Inn pub in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.
Mr Balsevics – who is from Latvia – became Conservative mayor of Wisbech when he was made chairman of the town council last May.
He had his name removed from the licence at the 17th century pub after a dossier revealed 21 alleged breaches of rules which Fenland District Council’s licensing committee described as ‘totally unacceptable’.
CCTV footage showed him, his staff and customers ‘mingling’ and mixing freely when contact between tables and different households was banned under Tier Two rules and only table service permitted.
Algars Balsevics, 39, was found to have a ‘blatant disregard’ for coronavirus rules at his Angel Inn pub in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire
The physical contact included hugging, kissing, shaking hands and mock fighting and wrestling, according to a report.
Councillors also suspended the licence of the Angel Inn – which is owned by Elgood’s Brewery – for three months, to allow a new landlord to be found.
Mr Balsevics was given a £1,000 fixed penalty notice by Cambridgeshire Police for breaching Covid rules.
But he will be able to continue running his other two pubs in the town which is known for its high population of Eastern Europeans working in agricultural and food factory jobs.
The licensing committee concluded that the landlord ‘was fully aware of his responsibilities but chose to ignore them’ on December 24.
Mr Balsevics (pictured with his partner Veronika Luko) – who is from Latvia – became Conservative mayor of Wisbech when he was made chairman of the town council last May
It added: ‘Covid regulations were largely ignored as was the Health and Safety at Work Act. There were little or no safeguarding for employees and customers.
‘The motive behind this blatant disregard can only be for profit. We find such behaviour during the pandemic […] staggering to say the least.
‘Not only were staff put at risk and those in attendance but also persons in the wider community who may well come into contact with those present on the day.’
PC Paul Hawkins, from Cambridgeshire Police, said officers had been informed a private party for a football club was being held at the pub on Christmas Eve.
He added that CCTV footage ‘clearly shows Balsevics, the staff and the patrons in complete disregard of the Covid restrictions that were in force at the time of the incident’.
Fenland’s senior environmental health officer Trevor Darnes told the meeting that it was clear from the footage that ‘no attempt’ had been made to stop people mixing.
He added: ‘Therefore I question whether [the landlord] is capable of running the operation.’
He had his name removed from the licence at the 17th century pub (pictured) after a dossier revealed 21 alleged breaches of rules which Fenland District Council’s licensing committee described as ‘totally unacceptable’
David Dadds – representing Mr Balsevics and Elgood’s Brewery – argued that the dossier revealed only alleged Covid breaches and not offences under the Licensing Act.
Mr Balsevics said he was disappointed by the decision which is due to come into force in three weeks and was planning to appeal against it.
He said in a statement: ‘I wear two hats, one as a licensee and one as the Mayor.
‘As licensee I have to run a business that works for my staff and my customers as well as provide for the well being and safety of them by promoting the licensing objectives.
Mr Balsevics (pictured) was given a £1,000 fixed penalty notice by Cambridgeshire Police for breaching Covid rules
‘As Mayor I understand I must set an example.
‘I cannot talk about the ongoing licensing case as it is my intention to appeal the decision and I don’t want to jeopardise the case.
‘With hindsight I do accept I could have done more and there are lessons for us all.
‘My term of office is for one year until May 17 2021 and in this year I have worked hard attending events (where possible due to Covid), raised thousands of pounds for local charities and did medication deliveries and grocery shopping for elderly and vulnerable people.’