A WOMAN claims she has had to shut a pub because concerns were raised about a mass gathering she was planning for 400 gipsies.

Leeann Swan, who describes herself as the manager of the Woodcutters Arms, in Eastwood Road North, Leigh, has closed the pub ahead of a gipsy gathering due to be held on February 16.

Leeann, who is of Romany descent and lives above the pub with her four children, said the licence holder had walked out because police had placed so many restrictions on the pub regarding the gathering.

This has meant that, without a licence holder on site, the pub has had to shut.

Leeann said: “It has been a gipsy pub for donkeys years and we were all set to have a gathering with about 400 gipsies coming.

"Some of them are family.

“We’ve never had any trouble here. We had a similar gathering last year and, although the police came down, there were no problems.

"People had said they were worried about the horses, but they were all fed and watered.

“The police wanted all these things put in place, including doormen, and even a fence around the pub and they intimidated Tara, the licence holder, so much, we decided to cancel it.

“She walked out on Thursday and because I’m not the licence holder, we’ve had to stop trading.

“If the event was Christian or Muslim, these demands would not have been made.

“I feel we’re being persecuted for being of gipsy descent and running an event for gipsies.”

She claimed she has been given seven days tomove out of the pub with her children aged 11, 14, 17 and 19.

Essex Police said they advised a risk assessment needed to be carried out in relation to the planned event.

A spokesman said: “Licensing officers had a number of conversations with both the management of the premises and the managed house ownership, and met with them and the designated premises supervisor, to discuss the matter.

“We are awaiting the outcome of this risk assessment.”

Four staff have been affected by the closure and Leeann claimed stock was being removed.

The pub is owned by Enterprise Inns which did not put forward anyone to comment on Friday last week.

A spokesman for Southend Council said no review of the licence had been held or was due to be held.