A Toby Carvery pub in South Woodford has successfully appealed to keep its gaming machine permit after failing two undercover purchase tests.

Redbridge Council organised two tests at the pub on Hollybush Hill in January and June last year.

Both times, underage children, observed by council officers and police, were able to play on the machines without intervention from staff.

Owners Mitchells & Butlers were told on July 8 last year that the council proposed to cancel their permit to operate the three machines inside the pub.

However, after apologising for the “human error” of staff and taking a number of steps to prevent further lapses, they will now be able to keep their permit with no penalty.

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The pub will be able to keep its three gaming machines

A Mitchells & Butlers spokesperson said: “We’re pleased with the Council’s decision for us to retain our current permit following the comprehensive evidence we submitted.

“This matter is very important to us and we have robust measures in place to prevent underage gambling.

“We look forward to working closely and building a strong relationship with Redbridge Council going forward.”

The company pointed out that, during the test in January, their CCTV showed the two underage boys were only in front of the machine for 37 seconds.

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During the June test, observing police constable Monika Durova said the pub was “not particularly busy” and that a member of staff stood behind the children at the machine “not paying attention to the fact that they were playing”.

In their representations, the company claimed this member of staff “was dealing with another customer and mentally resolved to challenge the test purchasers when she had finished”. The staff member in question has now been issued with a “final written warning”.

The company explained it had taken a number of measures to prevent further lapses, including moving one machine so it could be better supervised, retraining all staff and writing twice to all its other premises to remind them of their responsibilities.

It also planned to organise a series of test purchases on its own pubs and aimed to install a system that would electronically notify staff when the machines were approached.