A COASTAL village is undergoing a serious dry spell after five pubs were forced to halt the sale of alcohol.

Locals and tourists alike have been left bemused after being turned away from five pubs in and around Robin Hood’s Bay, near Whitby, since lastTuesday afternoon – while beer was waiting in the kegs and wine was cooling in the fridges.

The Bay Hotel, Ye Dolphin Hotel and the Laurel Inn, in Robin Hood’s Bay, the Bridge Inn in Ruswarp and Fylingdales Inn in Fylingthorpe have all been banned from serving alcohol after Scarborough Borough Council found they were operating without a licence.

The pubs had all been owned by Martin Robert Tucker, who passed away in December 2015 – but under the Licensing Act 2003, the premises licences lapsed 21 days after his death, and no applications were sent to the authority to replace Mr Tucker as owner of the pubs.

The pubs have therefore been operating illegally for most of 2016 – and the council’s licensing team was unaware of the late Mr Tucker’s death until this week, when it said it has had no choice but to immediately notify the pubs that their licences had lapsed, which meant they had to stop serving alcohol and stop putting on licensed entertainment.

But spirits remain high among staff at the affected pubs, who said each have supported each other during the confusion, and are assuring guests they are very much open.

Jenny Moon, who works at Ye Dolphin in Robin Hood’s Bay, said the majority of their customers were tourists due to the high number of holiday homes in that part of the bay, and that everyone had understood.

She said: “We stopped serving at around 5.15pm on Tuesday, just after the Bay Hotel, and then the others followed on.

“Most locals tend to drink in the Victoria and Grosvenor on the north side of the bay but all our customers have been very nice about it.

“We serve food, as does the Bay Hotel, so we have been allowing customers to bring their own alcohol and we have served mixers.

“The Laurel does not serve food though so it has temporarily closed. It is a shame and a bit frustrating but there’s nothing we can do so there is no point in getting stressed about it – we will just carry on and hopefully will be back serving alcohol very soon.”

Jonathan Bramley, Scarborough Borough Council’s environment and regulation manager said: “We are absolutely staggered that this situation has been allowed to happen, which has left those affected facing uncertainty and potentially serious consequences.

“We have great sympathy for Mr Tucker’s family and we know the actions we have had to take this week will have serious consequences for the businesses concerned.

“It is imperative however that people understand that we are powerless to act to keep the pubs operating as normal because there is no legal mechanism available for us to do so. We do not want to be seen as the bad guys, but to not act on the information we have received would be a breach of duty.”

Lisa Dixon, Scarborough Borough Council director said: “While this is clearly a serious situation, we will be recommending to our licensing committee that it would not be in the public interest to pursue criminal proceedings against Mr Tucker’s family or the operators of the pubs concerned. We also know that the venues play vital roles in their villages as community hubs and as part of a vibrant tourism economy in the area.”