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Pub who claimed chilli eating contest exempt from lockdown facing ban

Pub landlord who claimed chilli eating contest was exempt from lockdown rules because its an ‘elite sport’ is hit with prohibition notice

  • Craig Harker, 33, landlord of The George Pub and Grill served prohibition notice
  • The pub in Stockton-on-Tees, Durham hosted a chilli eating contest on Nov 7
  • He insists no rules were broken because competitive eating is an ‘elite sport’  
  • The council made a U-turn on earlier decision that no action would be taken

A pub landlord who claimed a chilli eating contest was exempt from lockdown rules because its an ‘elite sport’ has been hit with a prohibition notice.

Craig Harker, 33, landlord of The George Pub and Grill in Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham, has been served with a prohibition notice following the British Eating League event in the earlier this month.

The socially distanced eating tournament was attended by a TV crew and five ‘athletes’ taking on the hottest chillies in the world.

The event was held in conjunction with the British Eating League but a complaint was lodged to Stockton Council after concerns it was in breach of lockdown rules.  

Pub landlord Craig Harker (pictured), 33, has been hit with a prohibition notice over a chilli eating contest that was held at The George Pub and Grill in Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham, on November 7

However Mr Harker, who runs the pub, said he adhered to the guidelines as he classes competitive eating as an elite sport.

He hit back at those that complained and insists no rules were broken. 

Government guidelines for lockdown state that restaurants and pubs must close but venues are permitted to be open for a small number of exempt activities –  including for elite sportsmen and women to train and compete. 

Mr Harker didn’t sell any food or drink during the competition so therefore didn’t break any lockdown rules stating that pubs and restaurants aren’t allowed to sell products.  

Earlier this month, Stockton Council made inquiries into the event and concluded that no further action would be taken against the pub.

But this week, the council made U-turn on their earlier decision and the pub was served with a prohibition notice in relation to the November 7 event. 

The event was in conjunction with the British Eating League but a complaint was lodged to Stockton Council after concerns it was in breach of lockdown rules. Pictured: Two of the five ‘athletes’ who took on the hottest chillies in the world

It claims there were ‘reasonable grounds for believing’ Mr Harker is ‘contravening a requirement in the regulations and that it is necessary and proportionate to issue a prohibition notice to prevent continued contravention of that requirement.’

It means the pub can no longer serve food and drink on the premises.

Pub landlord Mr Harker has hit back at the council’s decision and said he will be appealing the notice. 

Mr Harker said: ‘Of course, I’ll be appealing the decision and fighting the case that competitive eating is a sport and an elite level as well.

‘It’s lockdown 2 and people are looking online for entertainment, the British Eating League provides that under a safe environment whilst sticking to Government guidelines.

‘I won’t turn and hide and be told how I can and can’t run my business.

‘We are a successful restaurant and take-away looking to expand across Teesside and then the rest of the UK, if anything the council is pushing us away from the area and our customers.

Pub landlord Mr Harker insists no rules were broken because competitive eating is an ‘elite sport’ and said he will be appealing the notice. Pictured: Chillies eaten in the competition

‘They should be praising us and begging us to stay in the town rather than fight us at every opportunity.’ 

Councillor Bob Cook, Leader of Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, told TeessideLive: ‘Mr Harker held a competitive eating event in his venue which we believe to be a breach of national restrictions.

‘We have therefore served him with a Prohibition Notice.’

Prohibition notices can be served under new legislation introduced in March in response to the rising number of coronavirus cases.

Local authorities and police have the power to close premises that are failing to observe the lockdown.

Under the new legislation, if a person fails to comply with a prohibition notice, they commit an offence. 

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This is why Usher and Chilli from TLC broke it off

Step aside, Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears! The former popstar couple and their matching ensembles had nothing on singers Usher and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas’ relationship. With the TLC singer hanging on Usher’s shoulder, the couple were Hollywood’s “it” couple of the early 2000s. Fortunately, we have the “U Remind Me” video to thank for being the reason these two ended up together — however, this was not the first time they met. Usher and Chilli first met in 1993 when Usher first signed his deal at the age of 14, and Chilli was 21 at the time, as Zimbio reported. Those ages sound unsettling at first, but the former R&B duo wouldn’t begin dating until 2001, eight years later.

Many of their fans had super heart eyes for Usher and Chilli’s relationship. If you couldn’t tell from their red carpet appearances together and their steamy music videos throughout the years, the chemistry between the couple was through the roof! Sadly, their relationship couldn’t withstand the hardships. The pair called it quits in 2003 in a sudden split, per Showbiz Cheat Sheet. Rumors swirled back then that Usher cheated on Chilli, but Chilli seems to claim otherwise.

Usher never technically cheated on Chilli, but there was someone in the picture

Usher and Chilli’s split in 2003 was quite misleading for fans who believed Usher stepped out on the TLC singer during their relationship. In 2010, Chilli admitted what went down between her and the “U Got It Bad” singer. According to her, there was another woman in the picture while the couple took a break, as per Showbiz Cheat Sheet. Still, the former couple kinda seemed to acknowledge that infidelity played a part in the demise of their relationship. 

Chilli sat down with VH1’s Behind The Music and recalled how she found out about Usher’s side chick. “I never thought of him cheating, I don’t know… I didn’t expect anything like that from him because of how much we loved each other,” Chilli said (via The Boombox). “But I kept hearing about it, then I went to him and I asked him and he… admitted it.” (For his part, Usher said, “I cheated and it didn’t work from there.”)

Chilli later explained her reasoning for leaving Usher in a 2013 Us Weekly tell-all interview. The magazine reported that the singer didn’t actually cheat on her.

“I don’t care how much my heart was hurting, sometimes you’re just supposed to be with people for a reason and it’s not always a lifetime. Even if you want it to be, it just doesn’t work out that way.” Chilli also noted that Usher’s 2004 Confessions album was not about her; instead, the songs on the album pertained to Jermaine Dupri’s personal situation at the time.

Regardless of their relationship’s end, Chilli says that everything is “all good” between her and Usher almost two decades after their split. “But I’ll always love him, forever, because he was my first adult love, a real love,” Chilli added. “But we’re cool, we’re really cool. There’s no hard feelings, nothing like that.”

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