Agenda item

Application for the variation of a Premises Licence - Chaplains, 17-21 Front Street, Consett


The Committee considered a report of the Licensing Team Leader regarding an application to vary the Premises Licence in respect of Chaplain’s, 17-21 Front Street, Consett (for copy see file of Minutes).


Helen Johnson the Licensing Team Leader presented the report which included a copy of the application and supporting information. Additional information had been provided by the Police and had been circulated to all parties.


Following a request for clarification from Stephen Buston, Solicitor the Licensing Team Leader confirmed that the application included both on-sales and off-sales.


Following a further question from the Solicitor regarding the opening hours of other licensed premises in the locality, the Licensing Team Leader confirmed that she was aware that Bar One was open until 3.30am.


At this point Temporary Inspector Caroline Dickenson requested that the Police representations be heard in private in accordance with Regulation 14(b) of the Licensing Hearing Regulations.


The Sub-Committee considered the request and determined that the Police representations should be heard in private. Members considered that the public interest in doing so outweighed the public interest in the hearing taking place in public.


After hearing the Police representations, all parties returned and the hearing continued in public.


John Hayes, Environmental Health was invited to address the Sub-Committee and referred Members to his representations included at Appendix 4 of the report.


Stephen Buston asked if there had been any complaints received by Environmental Health. John Hayes confirmed that a complaint of noise had been received from a local resident in January but this could not be substantiated as Mr McDonald had said that the premises was closed.


Stephen Buston also asked what difference the extra hour would make in terms of noise nuisance.


John Hayes explained that as an employee of the former Derwentside District Council he had witnessed noise nuisance at this hour, and had received complaints from residents. It was important to emphasise that the licensing objective was about prevention and the likelihood of nuisance. In his professional opinion the extra hour would increase the likelihood of nuisance occurring.


The Officer was asked if there were residential properties in the vicinity and was advised that there were flats across from the premises and residential streets to the rear.


Gillian Moir, the Applicant’s Solicitor asked if there had been any complaints when the premises had a closing hour of 4.00am. She also asked if Environmental Health had received complaints in respect of other bars in Consett.


John Hayes confirmed that he had not had any other complaints in respect of Chaplains and had not looked at other premises in Consett in respect of this hearing.


Gillian Moir was invited to address the Sub-Committee and stated that the premises was currently licensed from 10.00am to 2.00am with a closing hour of 2.30am. The reason for the application was mainly financial. On 27 August 2022, a Bank Holiday, there had been less than ten people on the premises at midnight. The extra hour was requested so they would not lose customers to other later opening premises. There were other premises in the locality who were operating outside the Framework Hours.


Since the summary review Mr McDonald had taken steps to put policies and procedures in place with the assistance of Licensing Consultant Tim Robson. She had this information with her should the Sub-Committee wish to inspect, together with door logs showing that there were three door supervisors on duty every Friday and Saturday night.


The DPS was now employed on a part time basis because of the reduced customer numbers and worked Friday or Saturday night at another premises in the town from midnight.


Mr McDonald now held a Personal Licence and would apply to become DPS. He would be in full control of the premises and it would be his responsibility to ensure all policies and procedures were adhered to.


As regards the concerns of Environmental Health, Gillian Moir explained that Front Street consisted of largely commercial premises and there were other later opening premises which she would have expected to have been the subject of complaints if there were issues of noise.


Gillian Moir concluded that she had contacted Temporary Inspector Dickenson at the end of August to offer a meeting with Mr McDonald but this was not taken up. Temporary Inspector Dickenson clarified that any mediation would take place in the 28 day consultation period following the submission of the application which was on 20 July 2022.


Upon questioning the Applicant, Temporary Inspector Dickenson made reference to an incident that had occurred at the premises and asked why Mr MacDonald had not provided a statement to the Police. Mr McDonald replied that he had not witnessed the incident but had co-operated in any way he could.


Temporary Inspector Dickenson also referred to a visit on 8 August 2022 when it was noted that only two door staff had been present and that customers were found to be drinking outside. Mr McDonald replied that he had misunderstood the rules around COVID and thought that off-sales were permitted until the end of September. However he added that customers were in a cordoned-off area. Signs were now erected preventing alcohol from being taken outside.


Councillor David Brown asked how many later opening premises Chaplains was competing with and whether the application was based on a community or financial need.


Mr McDonald replied that there were three other premises open later and that the application was based on both; there must be a need from the community - customers who used to visit Chaplains when it was open later were now going elsewhere. As had been said previously there were only ten people in the premises on a Bank Holiday weekend which was not financially viable.


All parties were invited to sum up.


Temporary Inspector Dickenson stated that the Police were concerned that if the variation was granted then the risk of crime and disorder would increase. The Licensing objectives had not been promoted and conditions had not been adhered to.


John Hayes clarified that the complaint received in January was related to the previous licence. He was concerned that the licensing objective ‘prevention of public nuisance’ would not be upheld.


At 3.35pm Councillors David Brown, Jan Blakey and Robert Adcock-Forster resolved to retire to deliberate the application in private. After re-convening at 3.50pm the Chair delivered the Sub-Committee’s decision.

In reaching their decision the Sub-Committee had considered the report of the Licensing Team Leader, additional information from the Police, and the verbal and written representations of all parties. Members had also taken into account the Council’s Statement of Licensing Policy and Section 182 Guidance issued by the Secretary of State.




That the application be refused.



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