Councillors' Attendance Statistics
Agenda and minutes
Monday, 11 April 2011 7:00 pm
Venue: Council Chamber - York House. View directions
Contact: Jessica Vine, 020 8891 7078, Email: email@example.com
To confirm the procedure for the hearing (attached).
The procedure for the meeting was noted.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
Members are asked to declare any interests in matters for consideration at the meeting.
There were no declarations of interest.
To hear and determine an application for the review of a premises licence, under section 51 of the Licensing Act 2003. This review is brought by the Metropolitan Police.
Report of the Head of Consumer Protection attached.
Participating in this item were:
· Sgt David George (applicant for the review)
· Mr Gary Grant (Counsel on behalf of the applicant)
· Ms Sarah Hubacher (local resident)
· Ms Samantha Drew (local resident)
· Mr Richard Staines (local resident)
· Mr Matthew Phipps (Solicitor on behalf of the licence holder)
· Mr Adam Sawood (Operations Director, The Grand Union Group)
Mr Gary Grant and Sgt David George introduced the review application and explained why they believed that it was necessary to reconsider the conditions of the licence and to remove the current designated premises supervisor for the Grand Union. They explained the context of the review application and raised the following points:
· The Grand Union was located in the centre of Twickenham’s Cumulative Impact Zone. The venue had a capacity of 200. A small beer garden was located at the rear and noise issues had been previously reported in relation to this.
· Crime and disorder was already a significant concern in Twickenham town centre. The police were concerned that Grand Union customers contributed to this issue.
· On evenings when the premises closed at 11pm there were relatively few associated problems but on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays the premises remained open until 1.30am and the level of anti-social behaviour increased. This was particularly noticeable after 12.00am when clientele were leaving the premises.
· It was alleged that on 6 January 2011 an underage patron was served alcohol at the premises. The patron was extremely drunk and assaulted another patron with a fire extinguisher. In addition, many similar incidents of violence and anti social behaviour had been recorded by the police at or near to the premises in late 2010 and early 2011. These had been outlined in the Police Witness Statement and were summarised by Mr Grant.
· It was explained that in the context of the review the Sub-Committee could consider Crime and Disorder incidents recorded in the vicinity of the premises as well as within the premises. It was asserted that many of the incidents recorded in the vicinity of the Grand Union were perpetrated by customers leaving the premises. The police considered that customers at the Grand Union were leaving the premises in a very inebriated state, and that the staff were serving drinks to those who were already drunk. This was an offence.
· The Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) had appeared to be unaware of the terms of the licence at the Grand Union, as a poster in 2010 had advertised the last entry as being at 1.00am, when the conditions of the licence actually prohibited entrance to the premises for new customers after 11.30pm. Despite a written warning there were further occasions when members of the public had been allowed entry to the premises after 11.30pm.
· The police also had records demonstrating that door-staff had behaved unprofessionally on several occasions.
· Allegations of drug use at the premises had been made but these were unconfirmed.
· The Sub-Committee was referred to the supplementary agenda which outlined a recent incident where a police officer was head-butted by a customer leaving the Grand Union.
· Also set out in the supplementary agenda was an allegation of rape involving a woman who had been very drunk and was not offered assistance by the staff at the premises. When the police had asked for CCTV footage in relation to this incident it had taken over two weeks for this to be supplied.
· In light of all the incidents referred to, the police had warned the Grand Union management that a review of the licence would be applied for. However, following this warning a very serious incident had taken place outside the premises on 12 March 2011. This involved a fight between two groups of men who had been drinking in the Grand Union. As a result of this fight one man had suffered a fractured skull.
Sgt George played CCTV footage of the incident on 12 March 2011 to the Sub-Committee. Whilst the footage was playing he explained that the fight had occurred at 1.50am between the two groups of men (approximately 15 people) who moved from opposite sides of the road to confront each other in the middle of the street. Mr Grant explained that whilst the premises may claim that it is not possible to control the actions of customers once they have left the bar, the police considered that it was irresponsible to allow customers to become as drunk as they were. The police also felt that the late hour at which the premises closed had contributed to the inebriation of the customers. The police envisaged that if the late hours of operation were reduced at weekends and on Thursdays then the associated level of crime and disorder would be reduced. The police did not consider that it was necessary to revoke the licence entirely in order to promote the licensing objectives.
The Sub-Committee was referred to pages 11, 12 and 13 of the supplementary agenda where the police had set out their proposals for modifications to the Grand Union’s licence conditions. Mr Grant explained that the police welcomed the removal of the DPS which had already happened. The police were asking for a personal licence holder to be present at the premises from 6.00pm every Friday and Saturday. The police were asking for the licensable activities to end at 11.30pm and for the premises to be closed to the public by 12.00am in order to tackle the issues of crime and disorder and to minimise noise and disturbance to neighbouring residents. It was proposed that drinks should not be taken to the outside smoking areas after 10.00pm which would also prevent noise nuisance. Other measures suggested included not permitting those under the age of 18 to enter the premises after 10.00pm; introducing a ‘Challenge 25’ policy; the use of the town centre radio programme; the introduction of a ‘clicker’ system to count the number of customers on the premises and the provision of staff training to ensure that alcohol was not sold to those who were already drunk. It was also requested that the premises closed between 8.00pm and 10.00pm on the date of the Army vs. Navy rugby match.
In response to questions the Sub-Committee was provided with the following information by Sgt George and Mr Grant:
· In relation to the incidents reported at or in the vicinity of the premises, some prosecutions had been made while other investigations were ongoing. As the licensing officer for the borough police Sgt George was not involved with these cases.
· It was a matter for the premises management to introduce measures such as additional door staff in order to meet any new conditions such as a limit to the number of customers in the rear smoking area.
· The holder of the premises licence was the Scottish and Newcastle Pub Company. The Grand Union Group was the premises operator.
The Sub-Committee heard a representation from Ms Sarah Hubacher, a local resident, who raised the following points:
· Ms Hubacher’s property backed onto the premises of the Grand Union. Her house was approximately 15 yards from the Grand Union. She moved to the property in August 2010 with her two year old daughter.
· Her daughter’s bedroom window overlooked the Grand Union and on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights her daughter was awoken by the noise from the premises which included screaming, shouting and swearing as well as general chatter from customers.
· In the summer, noise disturbance was experienced on every night of the week, late in to the evening, meaning that Ms Hubacher was obliged to close her windows by 8.00pm.
· Ms Hubacher requested that the Grand Union’s garden be closed after 9pm in order to stop noise disturbance which was affecting her daughter’s health and welfare. She felt that this was a reasonable hour to close the garden as other pub gardens were closed at this time.
· Ms Hubacher told the Sub-Committee that her neighbours were also unhappy about the noise disturbance but were less likely to complain as they often leased their properties on a short-term basis.
· She was concerned that limiting the number of people in the rear smoking area to ten would not be effective as noise disturbance was often experienced even if only two people were outside.
The Sub-Committee heard a representation from Ms Samantha Drew, a local resident, who raised the following points:
· Ms Drew’s property overlooked the front of the Grand Union and the car park. She lived with her nine month old daughter who was affected by noise from the premises.
· She found that noise made by customers and from music was most noticeable on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings which meant that it was necessary to close her daughter’s bedroom window.
· She had raised some of her concerns with the Grand Union management in the past. In relation to this barbeques were no longer held on the car park. However, the car park was still used as an extension to the premises for customers to congregate in.
· A family member had witnessed the fight which had taken place outside the premises on 12 March and had been upset by it.
· Ms Drew agreed with Ms Hubacher that 9.00pm was a more appropriate time for the Grand Union’s outside areas to be closed.
· Ms Drew considered that it would be useful for the premises to install signage asking for customers to respect the neighbours.
The Sub-Committee heard a representation from Mr Richard Staines, a local resident, who raised the following points:
· Mr Staines lived in a property adjacent to the Grand Union. He also reported being disturbed by noise from the premises, especially at weekends.
· Mr Staines stated that the premises did not always comply with its current licensing conditions. He claimed that the premises were sometimes still noisy until 4.00am and that on one occasion the bar staff had held a party after the closing time.
· Mr Staines requested that the Grand Union was given stricter licensing conditions and that the enforcement of these conditions was also stricter.
· He added that a sign asking customers to respect neighbours would be useful.
The Sub-Committee did not have any questions for the interested parties and asked to hear representations on behalf of the licence holder. Mr Matthew Phipps, the solicitor acting on behalf of the licence holder, made the following points:
· The licence holders did not dispute the factual elements of the incidents reported by the police, however, they did not agree with the conclusions of the police. They considered that the proposed conditions relating to the Grand Union’s hours of operation were not reasonable, proportionate or necessary.
· The Grand Union Group operated the licence at the premises on a day to day basis. As soon as the Grand Union Group had been made aware of the issues at the premises they had introduced measures to address them in the short-term, such as replacing the DPS. Though the police had been in contact with the staff at the premises, it was felt that there had been a lack of contact between the police and the Grand Union Group, who were the licence holders.
· The senior management team and head office of the company had not initially been made aware of the licence review that the police had called for. As soon as the area manager and operations director had known about the review they had arranged to meet the local police.
· The Operations Director had met the police on 28 February to discuss their concerns about the premises and what measures could be adopted to address these concerns. However, the situation had escalated following the incident on 12 March, making further discussion difficult.
· Now that the management team were aware of the issues at the premises and were addressing these issues it was felt that it was not necessary to curtail the hours of operation at the premises.
· The Licence holder was willing to consent to many of the police’s proposed conditions, such as the improvement of the CCTV system which was recognised as being inadequate.
· Reference was made to Sgt George’s letter dated 31 August 2010, as set out on page 30 of the supplementary agenda, where the CCTV system was quoted as being ‘good’, which was a contradictory opinion to that which was later expressed. It was also noted that this letter had been sent to the DPS but not to the licence holder.
· Despite these issues the CCTV had already been repositioned and refocused in response to the police concerns. The hard drive system was also now compatible with the police system.
· It was acknowledged that customers had been admitted to the premises after 11.30pm and this had been an error as the staff had not been aware of the existing licence conditions.
· Though the licence holder did not dispute the fact that the premises had a wider responsibility to the town centre, it was stated that the men involved in the fight on 12 March had left the premises at least 50 minutes before the fight took place.
· It was felt that it was not proportionate to ask for the closing time to be brought forward to 12.00am on the basis of the 12 March incident as it was not evident that the Grand Union was the sole cause of the incident.
· The licence holder consented to the conditions proposed by the police in relation to the number of customers using the rear outside smoking area. Other conditions relating to the presence of the DPS after 6.00pm, the use of the radio system, record keeping, staff training and signage were also deemed acceptable and had been partially implemented already.
· The licence holder was happy to comply with the proposed Age Policy conditions, however, they disputed the notion that a 17 year old had been served alcohol at the premises on 6 January 2011. It was acknowledged that the Grand Union should not have allowed the person in question to enter the premises with her own alcohol but the Licence holder felt that the police description of this incident had been hyperbolic.
· It was acknowledged that there had been some failure to manage the Grand Union premises from head office, however it was also reiterated that communication between the police and the licence holder had been lacking.
· It was explained that the current management system required the area manager to visit the premises each Monday to receive a report on the weekend’s business. The area manager would then report back to the company directors via email. The area manager would also visit the premises in the earlier half of Friday or Saturday evening. The company had not been absent from the premises but information had not been readily provided to them.
· It was felt that the replacement of the previous DPS had been the right action to take and that since dialogue with the police had begun, the level of crime and disorder in the vicinity of the premises had been lowered, with the exception of the incident of 12 March.
Mr Adam Sawood, Operations Director at the Grand Union Group added that he had been shocked to find out about some of the incidents that had occurred in and near to the Grand Union, Twickenham. The company managed 11 premises across London with variable closing hours between 1.00am and 3.00am. He reiterated that if he had known of the issues sooner he would have addressed them immediately. He confirmed that following his meeting with Sgt George a number of the proposed conditions had already been implemented. He had met with residents in the past and hoped that by restricting the number of people in the outside smoking area to a limit of ten, he would be able to address the residents’ concerns about noise.
In response to questions from the Sub-Committee and from the interested parties, the following information was provided by Mr Phipps and Mr Sawood, on behalf of the licence holder:
· The licence holder raised no objection to (and had in many cases already implemented) the conditions proposed by the police, excepting conditions 4 and 5 (as set out on page 11 of the supplementary agenda). The licence holder also held some reservations about condition 3, but felt that this was not the core issue of the review.
· In relation to condition 5, it was recognised that the outside smoking area should be closed before the premises closed to the public, but it was felt that 11.30pm was too early an hour and that 1.00am would be more acceptable.
· In relation to condition 4, it was stated that once the other conditions were fully implemented, there would not be a need to reduce the opening hours of the premises, and that it was not reasonable to do so without first assessing how the other conditions reduced the reported levels of crime and disorder.
· A new general manager was due to start at the premises at the weekend. It was expected that the operations manager would also be made aware of any serious complaints if they arose and the communication between the premises manager and the licence holder would be strengthened.
· It was suggested that a sign could be provided for residents and customers on the premises which detailed contact numbers for the area manager and operations manager in case of problems.
· Structural changes within the management of the company and the premises were expected to improve the management of the Grand Union. Staff members had also recently attended licensing training courses to be personal licence holders and the company had held discussions with the door staff company to improve security.
· The Grand Union was often less busy in summer months, but, in response to concerns about noise in the summer months, it was hoped that external noise would be minimised by limiting the number of people who could use the rear smoking area in the evening. Residents were encouraged to contact the management team if specific noise problems occurred. It would also be possible to ask door staff to pay particular attention to the car park areas if noise was emanating from this location.
Mr Gary Grant and Sgt David George made the following closing statement points to summarise why the police had applied for the licence review:
· Though the police had initially held successful dialogue with the licence holder, the seriousness of the incident that had occurred on 12 March had meant that a full review of the current licence conditions was necessary.
· It was evident that there were no crime and disorder issues at the Grand Union on nights when the premises closed before midnight. For this reason it was envisaged that an earlier weekend closing time would have a positive effect.
· The Grand Union’s staff training manual explicitly asked staff to ‘up-sell’ from a single drink to a double and from a glass of wine to a bottle. It was felt that this policy may lead to increased intoxication and thus increased levels of disorder at the premises.
· The internal communication gap between the premises staff and the licence holder was seen as a weakness of the organisation which had contributed to the problems at the premises. It was also noted that the area manager would have visited the premises in the period when the posters advertising the incorrect entry hours were on display, but that this error was not rectified by the area manager.
· The police concluded that it was vital to reduce the licensing hours on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in order to avoid further incidents such as the fight on 12 March reoccurring.
The Sub-Committee heard a closing statement from Ms Drew on behalf of the interested parties. She made the following points:
· The residents did not feel that their concerns had so far been addressed by the Grand Union management.
· Nearby residents felt that the current noise levels at the premises on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays were unacceptable. Noise emanated from the car park and from the rear smoking area after 9.00pm at night. This had been a problem for more than one year and made it difficult for residents to keep their windows open in the summer.
· A sign asking for customers to be considerate of neighbouring residents should be placed in a prominent position at the back and the front of the premises.
The Sub-Committee heard a closing statement from Mr Phipps on behalf of the licence holder. He made the following points:
· The previous lack of involvement of the licence holder was felt to be a fault of the police who had not sent their correspondence to the correct person. As soon as the licence holder had been made aware of the issues at the premises a discussion had taken place with the local police.
· It was not correct to attribute all of the blame for the 12 March incident to the Grand Union and this incident should not be used as a justification for entirely revising the opening hours. The reduction of hours proposed was viewed as a disproportionate response to this incident.
· It was unfair to criticise the Grand Union for promoting up-selling as this was a practice used in many venues such as restaurants without issue.
· Since the licence holder and management had been aware of the issues at the premises they had introduced measures to address these issues which were beginning to be effective and there had been no further recorded incidents of crime or disorder within the premises.
The Sub-Committee retired to consider the points raised during the meeting.
It was RESOLVED:
1. That the conditions of the licence be modified (including conditions requested by the Police with various amendment) as set out in the attached schedule.
2. That the DPS be removed as the designated premises supervisor.
The REASONS for the decision were:
The Sub-Committee held the view that:
The Licensing Sub-Committee considered the seriousness of the incidents at and outside the premise, the action taken to address such incidents/behaviour and that the proposals subsequently made at the meeting were sufficient to impose the decision made. The Sub-Committee felt that the necessary and proportionate response on this occasion was not to revoke or suspend the Premises Licence.
Please refer to the decision notice (attached) for full details of the decision and reasons.