The applicant has applied for a variation of the Premises Licence in respect of The Bounty Public House, Bligh Way, Strood, Kent, ME2 2XH. All responsible authorities have been consulted in line with the Licensing Act.
The application is before Members as representations have been received from the Police. To date no agreement has been reached.
The Chairman asked those present to confirm that they had the agenda pack for this virtual meeting which set out the process that the hearing would follow.
The Licensing Officer stated that an application to vary a licence in respect of the Bounty Public House, Bligh Way, Strood, Rochester, Kent, ME2 2XH had been received, the variation to include:-
Monday to Saturday 10:00 to 23:00 and Sunday 12:00 to 22:00
Supply of Alcohol (on and off the premises)
Thursday to Saturday 10:00 to 01:00 and Sunday 12:00 to 23:00
New Year’s Eve 07:00 to New Year’s Day 23:00
Christmas Eve 10:00 to 02:00
Christmas Day 11:00 to 22:30
Boxing Day, St Patricks Day, Easter, May, Spring and Late Summer Bank Holidays Friday to Monday inclusive plus one hour on standard trading time.
Removal of condition 16 as there was now no children’s play area.
The application had been correctly advertised in the local press and notices displayed at the premises for the required timescale.
The Licensing Officer confirmed that, in accordance with section 9.14 of the Amended Guidance to the Licensing Act, discussions with Planning Services had confirmed that the premises had no planning history. They had been unable to confirm class or hours.
This matter had been put to the Licensing Hearing Panel because the Council had received representations from the Police. No agreement had been reached.
The following documents were included in the agenda pack: -
The Chairman invited the applicant to present the application for a variation to the premises licence. Mr Sheard said that the application requested the removal of a condition that required a designated play area to be alarmed because the play area no longer existed. He considered the current premises licence to be antiquated in that it did not allow the premises to sell alcohol after 10.30pm on public holidays such as Good Friday and New Year’s Eve.
He expressed the view that eight of the incidents referred to in the representations submitted by the Police had nothing to do with the premises which was located within an economically and socially difficult area of Strood. Mr Sheard stated that there had been considerable investment in the premises in the past two years such as the installation of lockable gates to the car park and the removal of a smoking shelter to the front of the premises.
Referring to the Police’s attendance at the premises on 22 November 2019 when drugs had been found at the premises, Mr Sheard said that no drugs had been found during previous visits. The DPS had spoken to several Police Officers who had stated that the premises were by no means the worst in the area. He was therefore seeking the extended hours at specific times to bring them in line with other premises in Strood and to reflect the fact that the premises had policies in place to operate more effectively than other local premises. In addition, Mr Sheard considered that the extended hours on Friday and Saturday would allow the dispersal of customers at a slower rate thereby reducing the risk of incidents occurring. However, if this was not acceptable to the Panel, he requested that the seasonal variations be permitted or at least the requested variations to allow the showing of films and the removal of the condition in relation to the children’s’ play area alarm.
PC Hill questioned Mr Sheard regarding the smoking shelter and was advised that the front shelter had been removed as staff had no control over it when the premises were closed. A rear shelter had been built which could only be accessed through the pub. Questioned about how the extended hours would improve dispersal, Mr Sheard said that there would be less people leaving the premises at the same time trying to get public transport. Referring to Mr Sheard’s completed application, PC Hill asked why he had not explained any extra measures that might be put in place should the additional hours be granted. Instead the application stated that current protocols would be maintained. Mr Sheard responded that measures had already been put in place to make the premises family friendly and an uncomfortable place for miscreants. The DPS had attended a drugs prevention course and there were regular toilet checks. No children were permitted at the premises after 9.00pm and security in the car park had been improved by lighting and lockable gates.
In response to questions from Panel members, Mr Sheard said he believed that some of the recorded police incidents related to incidents involving people who had been customers earlier in the days in question. Others were when customers had refused to leave but had done so when the Police were called and before the Police had arrived at the premises. He did not consider the premises to be a hot spot for incidents. He expressed the view that all premises experienced issues with drugs to some extent and that there was not a drug dealing issue at the Bounty.
Mr Sheard noted the view that his application lacked detail but maintained that the Licensing Objectives were respected at the premises and much was being done to meet them.
Asked why door supervisors were not employed at the premises, Mr Sheard said that to do so would make the business unprofitable. Also, it would not reflect the family friendly environment they wished to create. In addition, it was unlikely that agency door supervisors would be local so they would not have local knowledge of people who might cause trouble. Mr Sheard clarified the staffing levels at the premises.
In response to the alleged hostility towards the Police when they attended the premises on 22 November 2019, Mr Sheard said that the Manager had taken the incident seriously and had been taken aback and angry that drugs had been found on the premises. To clarify the activation of the alarm when the Police entered the premises, he said that on one door the fire alarm needed to be activated to release the magnetic catch. The alarm was therefore activated to enable the Police to enter through that door.
Asked about the showing of films at the premises, Mr Sheard said that he wished to show children’s films on Saturday and Sunday mornings as this would help to create a family friendly environment.
The Chairman invited the Police representatives to state their representations against the application. PC Hill clarified that the Police only objected to the extension of hours for the supply of alcohol and not the other elements of the application. He detailed the intelligence led Police operation on 22 November 2019 when several premises had been visited. During the operation, the Bounty was the premises where most drugs had been found and where the Police had encountered the most hostility. PC Hill stated his belief that the alarm had been activated to allow customers to leave the premises and that drug dealing had taken place. Seven bags containing drugs were found at the rear smoking shelter and drugs wipes had found cocaine on both the male and female toilet seats. The Police had encountered hostility and resistance from staff who the Police believed should have been aware of the presence of drugs. PC Hill expressed concern that there were insufficient preventative measures in place at the premises. The recorded incidents at the premises included alcohol fuelled violence and PC Hill was concerned that the extended hours might result in an escalation of incidents rather than the improved dispersal of customers.
He concluded by saying that the licensed hours of other premises in the area was not relevant as each premises had to be dealt with individually.
The Chairman invited Mr Sheard to question PC Hill. Mr Sheard stated that he accepted the Police’s representations against the application and that he wished to withdraw the part of his application relating to the extension of hours for the supply of alcohol. He asked that the parts of his application for the showing of films and the removal of condition 16 relating to the alarmed play area be granted.
At the request of the Panel, the Legal Advisor advised that the withdrawal of the variation relating to hours did not impact the Panel’s ability to determine the remainder of the application or to make any other variation that it deemed proportionate in light of the evidence heard.
In response to questions from the Panel, PC Hill said local testing had indicated that the seven bags found on 22 November 2019 contained cocaine but that they would need to be tested further to establish this for certain. He said that the premises were not the worst in Medway by any means and that the Police Licensing Unit would be happy to work with the applicant and his staff to make the desired improvements.
Summing up, PC Hill confirmed that the Police only objected to any extension in hours for the supply of alcohol and reiterated his willingness to work with the premises going forwards.
Mr Sheard summed up by saying that he was not prepared to go against the Police. He stated that his company had taken on a big challenge when acquiring the premises but that they had been successful in such circumstances before. He was very happy that no residents locally had raised objections to the application and that the business would revisit it after working with the local community.
The Panel resolved to exclude the press and public from the meeting during the Panel’s deliberations and decision making and the Chairman advised both parties to the hearing that the Panel’s decision would be sent to them within 5 working days.
1. The Panel considered all the written evidence before it and had listened carefully to all the oral evidence presented by the applicant and by the Police and unanimously decided to grant part of the application and refuse part of the application to vary the premises licence for the Bounty Public House, Bligh Way, Strood, Rochester, Kent, ME2 2XH.
2. The Panel granted the application in part to permit the exhibition of films (indoors), Monday to Saturday 10:00 hours to 23:00 hours and Sunday 12:00 hours to 22:00 hours.
3. The Panel granted the application in part to permit the removal of Condition 16 from the premises licence requiring that entrances in and around the designated children’s play area are to be alarmed to notify staff when a door is opened.
4. The Panel refused the application in part and did not permit any variation to extend the hours for the supply of alcohol on and off the premises as it was not satisfied that the applicant had demonstrated how he would promote the Licensing Objectives if the variation as applied for was granted. In reaching this decision the Panel had regard to the applicant’s stated acceptance during the hearing of the Police’s representations against the application.
5. The Panel urged the applicant to work with the Police in achieving their objectives.