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Licensed premises in England & Wales required by law to provide customers with tap water

Staff at a pub in Suffolk are alleged to have been abusive to cyclists who had stopped there for a drink and a snack and asked them to leave the premises after refusing to fill cyclists’ water bottles – in apparent contravention of legislation that requires all licensed premises in England & Wales to provide free tap water.

The claims, against the The Golden Boar in Freckenham, Suffolk, were made on the forum of the UK’s largest cycling club, Dulwich Paragon, by one of its members, Arthur Tye.

On Sunday, he wrote: “Just had a hell of an experience at 'The Golden Boar' in Freckenham and felt the need to share.

“Riding from north Norfolk back home to Cambridge after a weekend tour with friends we stopped at 'The Golden Boar' in Freckenham to have a quick snack and refresh.

“After buying a round of drinks and bar snacks they refused to fill our water bottles at the bar 'unless we spent £50 on food'. Slightly bemused we went outside to consume what we had bought.

“A female cyclist in the group saw one of the kitchen staff walking past outside and slightly cheekily asked if they could fill our bottles, which they gladly obliged.

“The angry and abusive manager, along with his barman, 'caught' her with the full water bottles, took them off her, pouring the water on the floor in front of her, and demanded that we leave their property.”

He continued: “The tale goes on, their action was so abusive I actually called the police.

"They were heard to say 'bloody cyclists don't even pay road tax', 'that ginger twat' and 'she's lucky I didn't hit her', among other comments. The worst customer service I have ever experienced.

He added: “The kitchen staff seemed nice enough though, I'm sure the food is lovely.

“I know Dulwich is a good few miles away from here, but some of you cover some decent distance,” he concluded.

The Licensing Act 2003 (Mandatory Licensing Conditions) Order 2010 provides that “the responsible person” – that is, the licensee, supervisor or a person authorised by them – “shall ensure that free tap water is provided on request to customers where it is reasonably available."

The requirement was one of a range of measures brought in under that legislation in an attempt to curb so-called binge-drinking.

There is no stipulation in the legislation that the water must be consumed on the premises, nor does it exclude customers providing their own receptacles for it.

However, while police correctly pointed out that the manager of a licensed premises could ask customers to leave, they also sided with the pub management regarding the provision – or non-provision, in this case – of water, according to Mr Tye.

In a reply to a comment on his post, he said: “Police said that they were within their rights to ask anybody they wished to leave their property at any time, and that they were under no obligation to provide us with tap water.”

We have asked the Golden Boar for a comment regarding the alleged incident.

Last month we reported how a woman in Yorkshire who filled up a water bottle after being asked to do so by a passing cyclist tipped out the contents when he was unable to pay the £3 she asked him to pay for it.

– Woman charges cyclist £3 after filling water bottle - then tips it out when he can't pay

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

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