POLICE chiefs have failed in an attempt to shut down a Greenock town centre pub following a string of alleged violent incidents and disturbances.

They called on councillors to revoke Cheers owner Ian Ellis' licence accusing him of being 'uncooperative, unprofessional and obstructive' and describing him as 'unfit' to be a landlord.

In a letter from the Chief Constable officers presented a catalogue of incidents at yesterday's Inverclyde Licensing Board meeting.

The incidents covered an eight month period and included a serious assault where the victim, who had been in the West Stewart Street premises, needed 120 stitches.

They also raised concerns about customers being 'highly intoxicated', cited evidence of drug-taking in the premises and highlighted the actions of door stewards.

But Mr Ellis's legal representatives hit back, saying that he had been targeted by the police after reporting an 'off-duty officer' urinating on the stairs of the premises and an 'over-reaction' on at least one occasion.

In the end the board rejected police calls to rip up the licence but admitted to grave concerns over the issues that had been raised, as they issued a warning to Mr Ellis to co-operate with officers and upgrade his CCTV operations to assist police investigations in future.

During the hearing, Inspector Julie MacDonald said: "I am disappointed that it has got to this stage.

"We would normally work with owners of licensed premises and come up with solutions.

"But Mr Ellis continued to be uncooperative, unprofessional and obstructive.

"I have never before in my career seen anything like this.

"It is also our view that patrons are high intoxicated inside the premises."

The letter addressed to the board from Chief Constable Iain Livingstone listed at least a dozen incidents in Police Scotland's bid to demonstrate that Mr Ellis was not a fit and proper person to hold a licence.

Their first reported incident was on January 4 with a female removed from the pub.

This was followed by other reports of calls to the police from the pub about 'disorderly incidents' and other matters picked up by CCTV operators.

There was also a disturbance in the pub following a funeral on April 12, with members of staff assaulted.

The police say that when they arrived there was one bar attendant and a door steward, with around 50 patrons inside the pub.

On May 7 staff contacted the police after an allegation of rape was made by a female following an incident the night before.

Then in July 15 police were called to the hospital following report of an assault in West Stewart Street, whereby a victim was left with five separate wounds to his face and needed 120 stitches.

On July 21 there were accusations made by a female that she had been physically attacked in the premises.

There was an incident on September 21, when plain clothed police officers turned up at Cheers to obtain CCTV footage.

It is alleged Mr Ellis was uncooperative and refused entry, ending with a large police presence being sent to the West Stewart premises.

The chief superintendent's letter added: "This was a significant drain on police resources."

Mr Ellis's lawyer Andrew Hunter claimed there were 27 officers, a figure which was disputed by the officers present at the hearing.

Mr Hunter said: "On this occasion I would agree with the Chief Superintendent.

"It was a significant drain on resources and I would say an over-reaction to have all these officers, whether nine or 27 at a pub on a busy Friday night for CCTV footage.

"Mr Ellis has repeatedly told officers that he is about in the mornings if officers want to view CCTV.

"The incident on August 12 was the main source of all this.

"We are led to believe that the man described as urinating on the stairwell was an off-duty police officer and he was ejected on the night for exposing himself to females."

He stated that Mr Ellis is making a formal complaint about his treatment from police officers.

Inverclyde Licensing Board have told Mr Ellis that he must hold to his promise to upgrade his CCTV operations in light of the review, and meet a condition that four members of staff will be trained to use it and it should be available should the police request it.

Councillor David Wilson's motion to suspend the licence for two weeks was outvoted.

Board convenor Ronnie Ahlfeld said: "The board has had concerns about the reports of over-intoxication of patrons in the Cheers premises

"Police Scotland are committed to working in partnership with licensed premises.

"We have grave concerns.

"But we do not believe there was sufficient evidence to revoke the licence on this occasion."

He concluded that a warning letter would be sent to Mr Ellis with all the conditions.