The applicant has applied for a variation of the Premises Licence in respect of Arena Food Centre 13 Ordnance Terrace, Chatham, Kent. ME4 6PS.
All responsible authorities have been consulted in line with the Licensing Act.
Representations have been received from the Police, Public Health and a Ward Councillor. No agreements have been reached.
The Chairman explained the process that the hearing would follow as outlined on page 4 of the agenda.
The Licensing Officer stated that, in accordance with the Licensing Act 2003, the Council had received an application from Arena Food Centre fora variation of a Premises Licence in respect ofArena Food Centre, 13 Ordnance Terrace, Chatham, Kent ME4 6PS.
The Licensing Officer referred to Appendix C of the agenda report, which showed that on 4 August 2022, the Applicant’s Agent amended the operating schedule to supply alcohol (off the premises) to Sunday to Thursday 08:00 to 23:59, Friday to Saturday 08:00 to 01:00 as opposed to Monday to Sunday 00:00 – 23:59 which was the original application requirements.
The Licensing Officer confirmed that the application had been correctly advertised in the local press and notices had been displayed at the premises for the required timescales.
The application had been referred to the Licensing Hearing Panel for determination because the Council had received relevant representations relating to all four of the licensing objectives from the Police, Public Health and a Ward Councillor and no agreement had been reached.
The Chairman invited the Applicant’s Agent, Mr Nigel Carter to present the application. He apologised for the absence of the applicant, Mr Capar, and informed the Panel Mr Caliskan was acting as the Applicant’s Representative.
Mr Carter outlined the application for a variation of the Premises Licence and confirmed an email was sent to the Licensing Team on 4 August 2022 which amended the operating hours and included proposed additional conditions. Mr Carter confirmed the premises sat within the Cumulative Impact Policy (CIP) area.
Mr Carter confirmed that the applicant adhered to the existing conditions of the existing licence: condition 4 - CCTV being provided, condition 5 - regular staff training for those that sold alcohol, condition 8 – no beers, larger or cider would be sold above 5.5% ABV and condition 10 – staff would pick up litter after the close of business. Some of these conditions were demonstrated in photographs shown in the Supplementary Agenda no 1 along with pictures of the Challenge 25 signs. Mr Carter confirmed that a direct number for the manager of the premises would always be publicly available for residents to use to discuss any issues or concerns.
Mr Carter confirmed that although there was a considerable amount of general litter and empty cans and bottles in the area there had been no evidence that the litter came from Arena Food Centre. In the photographs shown, the super or high strength cans and bottles that were over 5.5% ABV were not sold at Arena Food Centre. Mr Carter explained when he visited the area there had been no evidence of urination or defecation.
Although the premises was surrounded by densely packed, terraced housing no residents had objected to this variation even when the 24-hr licence was initially being applied for.
Mr Carter expressed his confidence that if the variation was granted the premises would not impact adversely on the licensing objectives, the applicant would continue to run the of license which would be of no concern to residents or responsible authorities and he understood that if he failed to promote the licensing objectives he would be brought back to this Panel.
The Chairman invited the objectors to discuss their concerns:
PC Andre Smuts, Kent Police outlined their concerns regarding the application which included that the premises fell within the Chatham High Street Cumulative Impact Policy (CIP), an area ranked within the most deprived areas nationally, with crime being the main concern and was covered by a Public Space Protection Order. The area had unacceptable high rates of alcohol related crime and disorder, alcohol related hospital admissions, ambulance call outs, A&E admissions due to assaults, and street drinkers.
PC Smuts confirmed the premises was located within an area which comprised of several off-licensed premises, with a high concentration of residential addresses, these other outlets were within 2 minutes’ walk of the application address.
PC Smuts explained a call had been received on 7 July 2022 regarding local street drinkers in the stairways around the blocks of flats at the bottom of Ordnance Street. When the Police arrived, they noted many discarded cans and a quantity of faeces in the corner of the stairwell which had been used as a toilet. On 21 July 2022 the Kent Police Licensing Team conducted a further site visit and spoke to a member of the MHS Homes cleaning staff who confirmed the area was regularly being used as a toilet. Kent Police do not attribute any of these issues directly to Arena Food Centre but provided the information as a broad overview.
PC Smuts explained that within the application there had been no reference to the CIP, no evidence of any research conducted in order to assist with the application and that the applicant had not sufficiently demonstrated what circumstances made it exceptional and how the activity would not adversely affect the licensing objectives.
Mrs Barbara Murray, Public Health Project Co-ordinator, on behalf of the Director of Public Health, outlined their concerns which included the prevention of crime and disorder and public nuisance in the Chatham High Street CIP. Mrs Murray confirmed that the Chatham Central Ward was the third highest ward for domestic abuse and concern was made with the hidden links associated with alcohol consumption.
Mrs Murray stated that she had made two recent visits and would continue to monitor the area throughout the year as it was a hot spot for alcohol related nuisance, street drinking, alcohol related litter and evidence of public urination and defecation. She had seen ongoing evidence of alcohol street drinking and super strength alcohol being consumed and discarded.
Mrs Murray discussed the photographs that were shown on pages 40 to 43 in the report and counted at least 70 discarded cans which were mostly Carlsberg or County Choice Cider both of which were lower strength ABV.
Mrs Murray confirmed that there were clearly issues identified within the CIP which were still current and ongoing and not just issues with higher strength beer or cider.
Councillor Vince Maple explained to the Panel that he remained supportive of the CIP because it was needed and continued to be needed at the current time.
Councillor Maple informed the Panel that when the Medway Task Force chose an area of Chatham Central to improve the community, they concentrated on this particular area because of the issues already discussed.
Councillor Maple stated that a minute longer added to the licence, not just for these premises but for the other two in the surrounding areas, would increase the pressure already at excessive levels and recommended refusal primarily due it being within the CIP.
The Chairman invited the Applicant’s Agent to ask questions to the objectors:
PC Smuts confirmed that the representations made by Kent Police was for the original 24 hr application and not the revised hours. He explained that although several additional conditions had been made the representation from Kent Police had not changed, the licensing activities in the area continued to add to the issues.
Following a question from the Panel, PC Smuts confirmed that an incident that he witnessed happened at approximately 10.30am / 11am. The Panel Member confirmed that would not have made any difference if an extension to the operating hours had been agreed. PC Smuts explained any additional hours, he considered have a negative impact.
A Panel Member asked Licensing and Public Health the operating times of the other two off-licenses that were in close proximately, unfortunately that information was not available at the meeting.
The Chairman asked all parties to leave the room whilst the Panel considered its decision.
The Panel, having considered all the written evidence before it and listened carefully to the oral evidence presented by the applicant and objectors, refused the application to vary the Premises License of Arena Food Centre, 13 Ordnance Terrace, Chatham Kent, ME4 6PS, having found no exceptional circumstances to grant the application for a Premises situated within the Chatham Cumulative Impact Policy Area.