South Lakeland District Council’s licensing sub-committee has revoked the premises licence for the New Inn, Highgate, Kendal.
The sub-committee heard on Monday, February 1, that Peter Colin Nicholson (the Designated Premises Supervisor and Premises Licence Holder) failed to promote and enforce social distancing and other coronavirus regulations, held a private party in breach of coronavirus regulations and failed to work with the Responsible Authorities to comply with the terms of the licence, including the use of CCTV.
He also caused statutory noise nuisance from his premises and failed to promote the licensing objectives.
Members resolved that revoking the licence was appropriate and proportionate for the promotion of the licensing objectives of the prevention of crime and disorder; public safety; and the prevention of public nuisance.
Cumbria Constabulary had applied to review the premises licence and the sub-committee considered the application on Monday February 1, with evidence presented by all responsible authorities including representations from Cumbria Constabulary, SLDC Environmental Protection officers and the Licensing Authority.
The sub-committee also heard representations made by and on behalf of Mr Nicholson.
The sub-committee determined that it was clear from the evidence that numerous efforts had been made by the responsible authorities to work with the licensed premise and Mr Nicholson to ensure that the licensing objectives were met.
It also noted that:
- During the period of Covid-19 Mr Nicholson as the Designated Premises Supervisor failed to adhere to restrictions which closed public houses and prevented it from trading. This was supported by Cumbria Constabulary’s evidence which included a witness statement from a former Designated Premises Supervisor at the premises, employed by Mr Nicholson, which confirmed that during these restrictions, on 21 March 2020, Mr Nicholson organised a private party at the premise. This account was not disputed by Mr Nicholson and his legal representative.
- Mr Nicholson failed to promote and enforce social distancing, use of QR code despite being required to do so, use of face masks when operating and serving drinks beyond the legally permitted opening hour. When these breaches were highlighted to Mr Nicholson during the various visits by police to the premise, he was uncooperative, defensive, threatening and, on numerous occasions, failed to comply with reasonable requests, such as the provision of CCTV.
- The sub-committee was satisfied Mr Nicholson had previously been warned on numerous occasions by the Responsible Authorities of the need to take steps to remedy the unsatisfactory management of the premises in accordance with the licence but had failed to do so.
- Members noted the concerns expressed by the Environmental Protection Team of statutory noise nuisance complaints received from neighbouring residents as a result of musical entertainments being played from the premises (indoors and outdoors) during deregulated hours. The noise nuisance caused by live or amplified music and singing being carried out at the external beer garden of the premises led to a Noise Abatement Notice being issued by the Environmental Protection Team.
The sub-committee considered all the steps available to them – removing Mr Nicholson as the Designated Premises Supervisor, an informal warning, modifying the conditions of the premises licence, excluding a licensable activity from the scope of the premises licence, suspending the premises licence for a period not exceeding three months or revoking the licence.
The sub-committee determined that the mere removal of Mr Nicholson as the Designated Premises Supervisor would not be an adequate or effective response and did not consider Mr Nicholson able to manage the overall operation of the premises in a way that would promote the licensing objectives.
In the opinion of the sub-committee, Mr Nicholson would continue to undermine the licensing objectives through his inadequate management of the premises, inadequate procedures and a general unwillingness to comply with emergency regulations or conditions of his licence.
Most specifically, Mr Nicholson’s clear inability to properly manage a licensed premises was a grave concern to the sub-committee, which noted in particular his continued lack of cooperation with the Responsible Authorities as well as breaches of licence conditions and emergency regulations.
Members of the sub-committee appreciated the impacts of this decision on Mr Nicholson, his staff and the wider community.
The decision of the sub-committee to revoke the licence was made as other measures were deemed insufficient.
The promotion of the Licensing Objectives were considered paramount.
The letter sent to all interested parties after the sub-committee meeting detailed the reasons for the revocation said: “Mr Nicholson provided no adequate reassurances that he would address these concerns moving forward.
“The sub-committee did not have confidence that Mr Nicholson would be able to manage the premises whilst ensuring compliance with the licensing objectives.
“He was asked how he will work with the Responsible Authorities, what he would do differently and how he would ensure future compliance with the premises licence conditions and promote the licensing objectives.
“He did not provide a clear response to members even after several prompts from his legal representative.”
The parties have a right of appeal against this decision to the Magistrate’s Court within 21 days from receiving the written decision.