A Merseyside pub has temporarily renamed itself “The Three Bellends” in protest against the government’s decision to place Liverpool under strict restrictions.
The James Atherton in New Brighton has replaced its crest from a portrait of its namesake – the founder of New Brighton – to a picture of prime minister Boris Johnson, health secretary Matt Hancock, and the PM’s senior adviser Dominic Cummings, pictured quite literally with bells on their heads.
Daniel Davies, chief executive of pub owners Rockpoint Leisure, said the new name “really reflects the mood of the nation” and was chosen on Tuesday when he was forced to tell his staff the pub would have to close.
“It really tears the heart up,” he told HuffPost UK. “It just really, really infuriated us and made us think: why are they doing this? All the evidence points against shutting down places like public houses.
“They’re bellends because Boris and co said they would invest a lot in the north when he got in – but they’ve done nothing for the north. They’re not being affected by this lockdown.”
The decision to shut pubs earlier was “horrendously badly handled,” he said. “It only exacerbated the problem. The whole point of licensing is that people leave at different times, then suddenly at 10pm there was a huge surge of public transport and taxis with the amount of people leaving at the same time.”
He added the name change would stand for “as long as we have martial law – which is pretty much what we are in now”.
“What we will do is fight through this, but it’s absolutely devastating.”
The temporary rebrand has been met with approval by some locals.
“This is a reflection of how our communities are feeling right now,” local Jo Sally Marie Dunn told HuffPost UK.
“The people of Merseyside have suffered years of unnecessary cuts and austerity measures which have impacted on the health and wellbeing of the most vulnerable people in our community. We have seen a rise in the use of food banks, homelessness and poverty.
“It’s 2020, we are the fifth richest economy in the world, there is no reason why anyone should be suffering in this way.
“The most recent lockdown measures will be the final nail in the coffin for lots of local businesses and people have had enough and are fighting back.”
The new three-tier system of local restrictions that came into place on Wednesday have seen all areas of England put into one of three categories labelled as medium, high or very high risk.
The Liverpool region is the only area to be under the toughest rules. Pubs and bars which do not serve meals have been forced to close, and social mixing is banned indoors and in private gardens.
On Wednesday Liverpool’s mayor Steve Rotherham warned Merseyside was at a “dangerous moment” and said the city region could be “overrun with sickness and death” if people do not abide by Johnson’s measures.
“I realise that people are frustrated with the new measures,” he said at a joint virtual conference with Manchester’s mayor Andy Burnham.
“No one wants to curtail the freedoms or damage the economy or the sectors in our city region and cause hardship for anyone.
“But we have tier 3 restrictions in place from today and they are the law.
“We have to all abide by them, just as we did in March, and everybody needs to take it as seriously as we did back then. We had no choice but the alternative is to see our city region overrun with sickness and death.”