A LANDLADY who broke the law by allowing people to smoke in her pub has hit out at the smoking ban which she says is “destroying the pub business”.

Lesley O’Reilly, who is landlady of the Gilnow Arms in Deane, has been fined £500 and ordered to pay a further £510 in costs and surcharge after pleading guilty to failing to prevent smoking inside the pub.

But she said the smoking ban had led to the closure of several local pubs and was causing problems for others.

Speaking after she was sentenced at Bolton Magistrates’ Court yesterday, Ms Reilly said: “I really think they have killed the trade with this law.

“Why can’t we give smokers a room inside where they can go instead of them having to stand outside.”

The court was told the pub was visited at 1.25am on May 13 by council enforcement officers and police as part of a routine inspection.

The front door was closed and curtains shut, but the officers were allowed inside after knocking on the door and they smelled smoke.

Rebecca Kirk, prosecuting on behalf of Bolton Council, said one man was stood at the bar smoking a cigarette with an ashtray at his side and Ms O’Reilly was sitting with a woman who was smoking a hand -rolled cigarette.

Altogether there were four ashtrays out in the pub, containing a total of 18 cigarette butts.

Ms O’Reilly, who was defending herself, said the evening had been very stressful.

She took last orders at 1am and admitted she had allowed people to smoke inside.

Ms O’Reilly told the court: “I shouldn’t have, but it happened.

“It had been very stressful that night with the football and wannabe gangsters kicking off between themselves.

“I’d had a few wines and I was shut. I am guilty, what else can I say? I am sorry.”

After the hearing, Ms Reilly said that the closure of a nearby Labour Club and the uncertain future of the neighbouring Cross Guns means the Gilnow Arms may eventually be the only pub left in Deane Road.

Her views were echoed by Sara Moorcroft, landlady of the Cross Guns, who was fined for allowing smoking at her pub in June.

She said: “I totally agree that the smoking ban has destroyed everyone in Deane Road.”

She said that most of her customers were older drinkers who had previously been used to having a cigarette with their beer.

Ms Moorcroft added: “Some of these people have fought wars and they can’t have cigarette in their own local. It’s wrong.”