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Agenda item

Application for the Variation of a Premises Licence - The Pickled Parson, 1-2 The Square, Sedgefield


Members: Councillor C Carr (Chairman), P Atkinson and M Wilson


Councillor Carr confirmed that he was no relation to Mr Carr who had made representations.


The Committee considered the report of the Corporate Director of Regeneration and Local Services regarding an application for the variation of a premises licence for The Pickled Parson, 1-2 The Square, Sedgefield (for copy of report, see file of minutes).


A copy of the application and supporting documents had been circulated to Members together with copies of the representations received and responses from responsible authorities.


The Senior Licensing Officer presented the report and advised Members that the Statutory Licensing Sub-Committee had determined a variation application of the 7 September 2018 where Members stipulated conditions to be attached to the licence one of those conditions was in relation to the removal of the benches outside the premises. The applicant submitted a minor variation application to remove this condition on 13 November 2018 which was refused by the Licensing Department following comments in opposition to the proposal. A full variation application was submitted on 24 January 2019 to remove the condition in relation to the benches outside the premises.


Durham Constabulary, County Durham & Darlington Fire Rescue Service, Durham County Council’s Public Health Department, Durham County Council’s Environmental Health Department and Durham County Council’s Planning Department responded to the consultation with no comments.


Three letters of representation had been received, two in opposition, namely Sedgefield Town Council and Mr Carr and one from Councillor Makepeace who stated he had no objection to the application.


Mr Carr, an other person was invited to address the Sub-Committee. He referred to his letter of objection which he wished to expand on. He indicated that The Pickled Parson was in the centre of the village green in an elevated position with residential properties surrounding as shown on the circulated plans. Due to the location of the premises noise echoed, late in the evening. There were currently six benches located outside the premises and there was room for additional benches which were not contained or fenced off making it impossible to control when the premises were closed. Members of the public could congregate on the benches making noise which impacted on people sleeping in the vicinity. He then referred to the previous hearing where the applicant agreed to remove the benches at closing time. Other premises that had benches located outside that caused a nuisance once removed the problems were solved. Since the premises licence was approved there had not been the weather to sit outside but as the weather was improving people would sit outside the premises.


Councillor Wills speaking on behalf of Sedgefield Town Council stated that Pickled Parson was in a prominent position on the village green and referred to the location plan where it was clear that the square stands on its own giving it a position where noise travels. The Pickled Parson was also located within a small short walk from other drinking establishments and there were 12 points of sale of alcohol in the area. Six and a half months ago the Sub-Committee agreed taking into consideration the licensing objectives and the concern of local residents to place a condition on the licence to remove the benches into safe storage after opening hours which was a reasonable condition to prevent public nuisance. She then referred to the Town Council’s written representation and reference to Durham County Council’s Statement of Licensing Policy, in particular section 9.3 that refers to external structures and the applicant was expected to offer measures and the Council would normally expect them to be removed before the premises close and the Town Council had been subject to public nuisance over numerous years. The temptation for people to sit at benches unsupervised was most concerning as there was no supervision when the premises were closed. The Town Council were unsure of the management situation as there was no flat, so they were not assured that someone would be available to deal with any issues. The Licensing Sub-Committee agreed that this was a reasonable condition and was the suggestion of the Applicant, the opening hours were not affected by this condition, they had reasonable opening hours and only off sales ceased at 10.00 pm. Other businesses had café licences to their frontage on the highway, but this application was on a village green and this condition was a reasonable compromise to minimise the impact on local residents and for the prevention of crime and disorder.


She had looked at the Daniel Thwaites case and the decision to impose restrictions which was based on speculation rather than evidence which was not the case with this condition. The benches being large and cumbersome was not a matter for this sub-committee as small manageable benches could be purchased. As the condition had only being imposed for a short time over the winter months they did not know if the benches would create anti-social behaviour, but they thought it would over the summer months. Residents were concerned of the effects of noise internally and externally from off sales which would encourage drinking outside. The suggestion that the condition was imposed due to the confusion with another premises was highly unlikely, and they would ask that the application to remove the condition be refused.


Mr Taylor, the Applicant’s agent indicated that it was a simple decision to be made. A considerable amount of money had been invested into the property and the type of clientele would not participate in anti-social behaviour. They offered food and had nine letting rooms which was important revenue for the business which had high occupancy rates. The manager lived above the premises and the last thing the business would want was people outside of the premises which would have a detrimental impact on residents of the public house and the manager.


He then indicated that the ground was uneven, and they were unable to purchase fold away furniture as the ground was not sturdy enough for them to be in situ. There had been no reports of anti-social behaviour and they had no storage facilities for the benches. The outside seating was important for the business to flourish and at no point had there been any issues at the benches, they had agreed to reduce the times for off sales and signage had been erected to ask patrons to respect neighbours. He stated that no anti-social behaviour had taken place, he was mindful of the licensing objectives, but the benches had no adverse effects.


Mr Jolly, the Licensee referred to the reference made to the adjoining properties and advised that they had put in sound proofing in the residents housing. He then referred to the Impeccable Pig which they also owned and had recently undergone a two million refurbishment which was within 100 metres of the Pickled Parson. There were eight venues in the area that all did what they did which was serve food and anti-social behaviour had nothing to do with their patrons.


The gathering of youths happened at the bus stop, he regularly talked to PC Lamb at the pub watch meetings who was on top of the anti-social behaviour. He stayed on site 90% of the time and he slept with a window open which was single glazing so he could hear any conversations, so any issues would be dealt with. The benches had been in place over the entire summer and there had been no complaints of anti-social behaviour. The town was populating, and their venue had a good name and was a go to venue. Hardwick Hall Hotel was currently undergoing a refurbishment and the ethos of the environment was a happy place and the benches were not causing any issues.


The Chairman asked why they had made an offer to remove the benches and why should the sub-committee remove this condition.


Mr Taylor responded that the last meeting was lengthy, and reference had been made to speaking to neighbours who may want a condition to remove the benches, but they did not offer this as a condition. He was surprised to learn that it was a condition and had submitted an application for a minor variation to remove this condition.


The Chairman indicated that this condition tendered to be standard where there were outside benches. He knew the area well and there are occasions where people would use the benches when the venue was closed which would cause problems in the area. He had spoken to the Police who did not know why you were asking for the condition to be removed. He indicated that it was their decision to buy heavy tables and asked why they could not replace the benches with ones that could be taken away.


Mr Taylor responded that the surface was uneven, and the benches had been cut to fit into the space. There was a Health and Safety risk if the benches were not stable, there was no storage to bring the benches inside the property and foldable benches would not be stable and safe.


The Chairman asked why it was essential to have tables outside.


Mr Taylor indicated that the outside area was essential to any licencing particularly if the weather was good. No outside area would have a detrimental impact on the business and they did not want to upset any patrons in their letting rooms as it was a good source of revenue and more and more premises were trying to utilise the outside space.


Councillor Atkinson appreciated what they were saying that the benches were heavy and that they had spent a lot of money on the premises. He asked why they could not purchase lighter outside furniture as they could do some work to the front of the premises to make the ground stable.


Councillor Blakey indicated that she knew the area well and the Police were fully on board to ensure that anti-social behaviour would not happen again this summer and asked if they had CCTV in the outside area.


Mr Jolly indicated that they currently had CCTV at the doorway where you could see out the front of the premises, but they could install CCTV where the benches were located.


Councillor Blakey indicated that she sat on the panel when the application was considered, and the condition was imposed as a compromise for the benches. She asked what action they would take if there was ant-social behaviour at the benches.


Mr Jolly responded that he would initially deal with the incident himself and call in services if required.


Councillor Blakey asked if they would consider removing the benches at any time due to anti-social behaviour.


Mr Jolly responded they would never let it get to that point.


Mr Taylor indicated that their business procedures were regularly reviewed and were about managing scenarios to prevent issues arising. The question was difficult to answer as no incidents had occurred, but Mr Jolly worked closely with the police.


The Chairman asked if they had considered the condition being removed so that no benches were allowed.


Mr Jolly responded that they had considered every aspect.


Clarification was sought on the number of benches and the time of usage. Members were advised that there were six benches that were in use until the premises closed at 11.00 pm.


Councillor Wills raised concerns that there was no supervision when the premises closed and if the benches stayed in situ then anyone could use them, even people from other venues. The manager does not live on site but stays 90% of the time so how can supervision be constant. There was no evidence to show that the ground of the outside area was uneven, and the village green was the responsibility of the Town Council and was maintained.


The Chairman indicated that the benches could be used by anyone which was a concern and was why he had asked if they had considered not having any benches. The condition to remove the benches was offered by the Applicant.


Mr Taylor referred to the previous hearing where the words used were that they may wish to consider taking benches in and consider talking to neighbours which was a misunderstanding possibly on his behalf.


The Chairman indicated that he had spoken to the Solicitor who was present at the last meeting who had indicated that the minutes were accurate, and the notice of decision was clear. The Chairman at the last hearing also checked the notice of decision before signing to ensure accuracy.


Mr Carr indicated that a lot of money had been spent on the building, but other venues also have a lot of money spent on them but don’t have benches outside. He was not personally objecting to the benches, but they should be removed on an evening and no other benches were outside of premises.


The Chairman invited all parties to sum up.


Mr Jolly indicated that he only stayed on site 90% of the time but they did always have a night manager on site.


At 10.50 am the Sub-Committee Resolved to retire to deliberate the application in private.


After re-convening at 10.55 am the Chairman delivered the Sub-Committee’s decision. In reaching their decision the Sub-Committee had taken into account the report of the Senior Licensing Officer, the written and verbal representation of Other Persons and written representations from responsible authorities. Members had also taken into account the Council’s Statement of Licensing Policy and Section 182 Guidance issued by the Secretary of State.


Resolved: That the application to vary the premises licence be refused.

Supporting documents:


Democratic Services
Durham County Council
County Hall
County Durham
03000 269 714