A prominent city centre pub has closed suddenly, only weeks after its parent company reported its first drop in profits for at least five years.

The Queen, in Bridge Street, near Bradford Interchange, still bears the name of Kevin Davies on the licensee's plaque above the door but has a large closed' sign in the window.

A spokesman for Enterprise Inns, which owns the pub, said: "The pub is temporarily closed but will be reopening as soon as possible. It won't be closed for long at all."

The spokesman declined to comment on the reasons for the closure.

Last month, Enterprise Inns reported its first drop in profits for at least five years and warned that waning consumer confidence and the smoking ban could make matters worse.

Anti-smoking campaigners say the smoking ban has turned pubs and other public places into much healthier and more pleasant environments.

But David Haigh, honorary president of Bradford Inner City Licensees Association, said he feared pubs could be forced out of business by a combination of the winter effect of the smoking ban, alcohol tax rises and proposals to make pubs pay towards the cost of city centre policing.

He said licensees had already been "crucified" by recent Government legislation and that things could get even worse under proposals put forward by West Yorkshire Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison for late-opening licensed premises to contribute to the cost of policing and safe detox areas.

Mr Haigh, who is also licensee of Haigy's, in Lumb Lane, said: "All pubs in Bradford are struggling at the moment, due to a combination of things.

"The smoking ban has got a lot to do with it. We don't know a pub that has not suffered since the ban was introduced. Now they are looking to crucify us even more with a large tax increase in the next budget.

"They are also going on about binge drinking and the chief constable wants us to pay for the policing of the streets because of alcohol-related disorder. I suggest he should have a closer look at the supermarkets which are selling cheap booze to people, who then binge drink before hitting the streets later on."

Richard Cobb, licensee at The Old Bank, in Market Street, Bradford, echoed Mr Haigh's concerns.

He said: "If this no smoking rule was supposed to make room for non-smokers, then where are they all?

"Why aren't we bursting out of the door with non-smokers and families?

"The smoking ban has made a lot of difference and it has hit us really hard.

"I used to have a lot of older customers - in their late 80s - who have stopped coming because they can't be expected to go outside and smoke in the freezing cold. The ban was introduced in summer, but it's really starting to bite now it's winter."

e-mail: will.kilner@bradford.newsquest.co.uk

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