A PUB in Winterbourne has won a reprieve to its licence after the police called for late opening hours to be scrapped.

The George and Dragon pub, on Winterbourne Hill, has had its 2am licence revoked and will now close at 12.30am on Friday and Saturdays. The review comes after increasing trouble with large groups of drinkers who gather outside the pub in the early hours of the morning shouting obscenities, slamming car doors and urinating in the street.

Police said they had dealt with a significant increase in anti-social behaviour in the area which culminated in three weekends of ‘serious’ incidents in October including one where a man wielded a knife at customers.

Phil Lawrence, licensing officer for Avon and Somerset Constabulary, told a meeting of South Gloucestershire Council’s sub-licensing committee yesterday: "Earlier this year the pub started trading until 2am and as a result we have noticed a rise in alcohol-related disorder."

He said many of the problems were caused because the George and Dragon was the only pub serving alcohol in the early hours of the morning.

He said: "The number of people from Bradley Stoke who take a taxi to Winterbourne for a late night drink has increased."

Landlord Steve Fionda, who has run the George and Dragon for 18 months, was praised by the licensing committee for taking steps to tackle the problems, including erecting a fence around the car park so people could not gain entry after hours. He also agreed to close at midnight following a meeting with residents and Winterbourne Parish Council.

Mr Fionda said: "I have spent a lot of money on the pub and the changes have attracted a lot of youngsters.

"We started carrying on until 2am to pay the bills but we have cut back to midnight to see if it made a difference which obviously it has.

"I have done what I can to keep the noise down but there are gangs of youths who meet round the back of the Co-op where they drink alcohol and take drugs and at the end of the evening they come on to the village green and unfortunately the back of my pub."

Jonathan Haddrell, who moved to Winterbourne three years ago, said the problems had been ‘unbearable’ during the summer.

"We have not experienced any problems at all until the summer but this particular summer has been unbearable," he said.

"We have been kept up until 2am and we have young children trying to sleep."

Tony Fowler, who lives opposite the pub, said: "Steve Fionda took over the pub when it was actually dying. Late night opening was its unique selling point.

"Obviously there are problems but the traffic is worse than the noise from the pub garden."

Mr Fionda was told his 2am licence on Friday and Saturdays would be revoked with immediate effect. Councillors, however, gave him permission to sell alcohol until 12.30am and open until 1am at weekends.

Added Mr Lawrence: "Mr Fionda is a very strong licensee and he is more than capable of running the pub. I am sure he will go away from this and run the pub properly."