A Rossendale landlady who faces a licensing review over alleged incidents of violence, noise and breaches of Covid restrictions has hit back at her accusers – who she says made the watering hole out to be like the Wild West.

Marie Burke, licensee of the Roebuck in Waterfoot, says much of the criticism linked to the review is out of proportion or mistaken. Although she accepts she has made some mistakes in her first two years of running the pub, which is her first, she believes criticism by some officials or neighbours is unfair and exaggerated.

Referring to America’s lawless history, she said: “Some of the comments make the pub sound like it’s the gunfight at the OK Corral.”

Mrs Burke faces a licensing review on April 26 at Rossendale Borough Council. Various reports have been written by police, licensing and environmental health officers with allegations of Covid breaches and incidents inside and outside the Burnley Road East pub.

These include reports of fights, alleged drug incidents and reported breaches of social distancing and indoor gathering restrictions.

Mrs Burke’s sister, Jayne Walton, helps with the pub business and is a director.

Police say they have reports of 35 incidents at the pub since early 2020. And the venue has the second-highest recorded number of incidents in Rossendale in the past 12 months, according to reports sent to the licensing hearing.

Mrs Burke, 50, said: “I took on the pub three or four weeks before the pandemic and before all the restrictions came. This is my first pub so I’ve been learning the trade. In the past, I was a carer.

“The Roebuck had been extremely quiet in the past but it has become a success. At weekends, it has become extremely busy. But we have a good mix of young and old, including one 80-year-old regular who comes every day for a pint.

“The pub has quite a large beer garden at the back. During the pandemic restrictions, we opened the beer garden when we were allowed  and there were some times when music and conversation was a bit loud. But we have changed what we do and have aimed to sort things out for the neighbours.

“We have sound-proofed the windows and turned the music volume down. We no longer have bands performing. We just have solo acts. We have signs displayed, asking people to be respectful to neighbours. I admit not everything was perfect but we are working hard to get things right.”

Regarding violence, she said: “The odd fight has kicked off, like many other pubs. But we always have tried to calm things down and get people to go home as quickly as possible. Other than walking people home or sitting in a taxi with them, what else can we do?”

However, Mrs Burke also claims that some Waterfoot residents simply object to any activity or disturbance linked to a pub.

She said: “We had a complaint about a beer delivery wagon arriving early one morning at 5.30am. Yes, it was early. But I couldn’t control what time a delivery wagon comes. The wagon delivered about eight barrels, because it’s a small pub, and it was gone after a few minutes.

“It seems like there are some residents who just do not want us here. They lean out their windows with mobile phones, looking for anything to report. But there are other neighbours here who have no complaints.”

Mrs Burke added: “I’ve invited [them] to come for a drink in the pub, or a cup of tea or to a barbecue. But they have not taken-up the invitation. I want to work with them.

"I don’t want to get into tit-for-tat arguments. When some neighbours have had bonfires in their gardens, with smoke coming into the beer garden, I didn’t complain. I don’t want to fall-out with people.”

She said alleged breaches of social distancing, indoor gatherings and restrictions on indoor pub trade during the lock-downs were wrong.

“We have been criticised for being inside the pub when restrictions limited who you could see between Christmas and New Year. But we live here and these people were members of our family.  Not customers.  We had a few drinks and six policemen came in through the door. But it was a family gathering. It was nothing to do with the pub as a business.”

Mrs said council and police officers were supposed to be neutral but she feels the tone of some written notes in reports for the licensing hearing are judgemental and condescending. For example, she said some pub customers were described in written notes by officials as ‘Rossendale’s finest’ and there were observations about parents with children which were disapproving and critical in tone, she believes. Parents with children are allowed in pubs, she emphasised.

She said: “Let’s have facts rather than opinions.”

Mrs Burke is putting together written statements to support her case for the April 26 Rossendale Council licensing hearing.

The hearing is at the the borough offices at Futures Park, Bacup, at 10am.