|Members gave consideration to determine what action to take in relation to an application for review of a premise licence which had been received from Cleveland Police relating to Don Andrea, Apex House, Calverts Lane, Stockton on Tees,|
The Chair introduced all persons who were present and explained the procedure to be followed during the hearing.
Members noted that this review of the premise licence was at the request of Cleveland Police.
Representations in support of the review had been submitted by the Local Authoritys Environmental Health Service, Public Health and a local business (Tees Music Alliance) which was within the vicinity of the premises. Neither Public Health nor Tees Music Alliance was in attendance at the meeting.
The Respondent, Ms Cooper, and her business partner, Mr Troni were in attendance at the meeting and were represented by Mr Ross, Solicitor.
Barrister, Miss Smith, on behalf of the Applicant, Cleveland Police, indicated that the Police would be relying on CCTV evidence in relation to an incident which took place at the premise on 25 May 2014. The CCTV footage was provided to the Respondent prior to the hearing.
A copy of the report and supporting documents and statements had been provided to all persons present and to members of the Committee.
Miss Smith, on behalf of Cleveland Police, stated that the application for a review of the premises licence had been made as a last resort.
Miss Smith submitted that the Police had worked with the Respondent for a number of years in an attempt to prevent breaches of the licensing objectives. During this time, the Respondent had received numerous letters, visits and advice and guidance from Cleveland Police. Miss Smith explained that an Action Plan had also been put in place but there remained engrained problems with the overall management of the premise.
PC Iceton was called to give witness evidence on behalf of the Police focusing on particularly serious incidents, which involved the overall management of the premise. Miss Smith referred the Committee to the relevant statements and evidence in the bundle, and the salient dates/times of each incident as a snapshot of the problems reported at the premises.
PC Iceton gave oral evidence to the Committee about the incidents referred to in her statement and the supporting exhibits in the papers. The most salient incidents presented to the Committee by PC Iceton were summarised below:-
04 July 2013 - The Respondent had failed to ensure a sufficient number of doormen on duty contrary to the licence conditions. This resulted in the entry of an unwanted male who was asked to leave and subsequently returned with a firearm. PC Iceton described the incident as requiring a large amount of manpower to resolve it, and the reluctance of the Respondent to provide CCTV footage in respect of the incident.
04 October 2013 - PC Iceton described an incident where the Respondent had permitted her then manager (Mr Harker) to run a drinks promotion offering Jager Bombs, for as little as 10p per shot. The Police were concerned that a 17 year old male had been served as many as 20 shots and was involved in a fight, where he was knocked unconscious. Whilst it was accepted that the 17 year old male had provided false identification, PC Iceton described the drinks promotion as irresponsible and felt that there had been a failure on the part of the Respondent to disseminate to staff the illegality of serving customers who were intoxicated.
01 January 2014 - PC Iceton described an incident where the Respondents door staff had detained a male responsible for an assault inside the premise. The male in question subsequently informed the Police that the Respondents Manager, (Mr Raynor) had assaulted him whilst being detained by the Respondents door staff. The fact that the Respondent had appointed a manager who had assaulted a patron was a serious concern to the Police.
28 April 2014 - PC Iceton referred to an incident on 28 April 2014 and the supporting evidence, where the Respondent assaulted a female on the premises for which the Respondent admitted and received a police caution.
25 May 2014 - PC Iceton then described an incident where the Respondent had thrown a glass at a patron in retaliation to him throwing a drink over her. This resulted in injuries to the male in question. The Committee observed CCTV footage of the incident in question during the hearing. PC Iceton expressed concern that the behaviour displayed by the Respondent was inappropriate behaviour for a premise licence holder and could have resulted in injuries to other patrons on the premise.
Mr Ross for the Respondent was then invited to ask questions of PC Iceton.
Environmental Health had lodged a representation supporting the Polices application for a review due to a series of problems with noise levels at the premise. Mr Snowdon, Environmental Health Unit Manager, explained that the Respondent had resolved some problems by insulating the premises. However, the Respondent had, at times, not complied with undertakings given to Environmental Health, which led to an objection to a Temporary Events Notice. The Temporary Events Notice application was then subsequently withdrawn.
Mr Ross was invited to ask questions of the Environmental Health representative, Mr Snowdon.
In response, Mr Ross handed a copy of a letter from Environmental Health to the Respondent dated 15 September 2014 to the Chair. Mr Ross indicated that the licence conditions related to the prevention of public nuisance were being complied with, as at the date of the last inspection, (i.e.12 August 2014). Mr Snowdon confirmed that this was the position at present.
The Local Authoritys Public Health Service had also lodged a representation in support of Cleveland Polices application for a review. In the absence of a representative from Public Health, there were no questions from any party.
Mr Ross asked a series of questions of the Respondent in response to the evidence given by PC Iceton.
The Respondent indicated that her first involvement with the premise began in October 2011. At that time, the Respondent had entered into a 10 year lease of the premises.
The most salient points were summarised below:-
The Respondent felt that she had worked with the Police and taken advice, and acted upon it, as she thought necessary.
The Respondent denied any reluctance to provide CCTV footage to the Police as and when requested.
The Respondent also intimated that she had taken action when it became apparent to her that her managers had acted inappropriately. In particular, the Respondent indicated that her son, Mr Raynor, had had no further involvement with the premises since January 2014, and she also dismissed Mr Harker, the manager responsible for the drinks promotion, which was described as irresponsible by the Police.
In relation to the incident on 04 October 2013, the Respondent denied that the 17 year old male could have consumed 20 Jager Bombs as each customer was only entitled to 5 tokens each. The drinks were not pure alcohol but part made from a non-alcoholic energy drink. The Respondent also denied that the 17 year old male in question appeared drunk. The Respondent stated that both she and her staff checked identification as a matter of course and this male had produced false identification at the time.
The Respondent indicated that the bar downstairs formerly known as Tabu was now only used for private functions and extra door staff were employed to supervise entry to the ground floor bar and the bar upstairs.
In relation to the incident on 28 April 2014, in which the Respondent accepted a police caution for assaulting a female on the premise, the Respondent accepted that she had acted inappropriately and her actions were wrong.
In relation to the incident on 25 May 2014, in which the Respondent threw a glass towards a customer leaving the premise, the Respondent described how the CCTV footage showed that the customer in question had been chewing her for a free refill. When he threw the remains of his beverage at her, she felt humiliated as she was wearing a white t-shirt, which was wet and became transparent. The Respondent mistakenly thought she had picked up a plastic cup. She did not aim at the customer; she simply targeted the top of the door in order to wet him back. The Respondent said she was shocked when a member of staff confirmed that she had actually thrown a glass and not a plastic cup.
The Respondent considered that she did listen to police advice but it depends on what advice.
Mr Ross also indicated that the Respondents management of the premises went beyond what was required under the premise licence. For example, on a Sunday and Wednesday, the Respondent employed the SIA registered doormen from 12am onwards, which was not required under the licence.
Miss Smith, Barrister, on behalf of the police asked questions of the Respondent.
All parties present were given an opportunity to sum up their case.
Members had regard to the extensive bundle of written evidence, which had been circulated prior to the hearing and presented to them, in addition to the oral evidence given by witnesses and submissions made by representatives at the hearing. The Committee also had regard to the statutory guidance issued under Section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003 and the Councils Licensing Policy.
On balance of probabilities, the Committee were of the view that the evidence presented demonstrated that there was a persistent failure to comply with the licensing objectives and the conditions of the premise licence.
Whilst the Committee accepted that, as at the date of the last inspection, (i.e. 12 August 2014), Environmental Health had confirmed that the conditions under the heading Prevention of Nuisance, were being complied with, the Committee were very concerned that the separate incidents presented by the Police, had been persistent with very little improvement.
After carefully considering the written and oral evidence, Members were satisfied, on balance, that the incidents were fundamentally linked to the overall control and management of the premise. The Committee were of the view that the problem could not, on balance of probabilities, be resolved by simply appointing a new Designated Premise Supervisor to replace the Respondent. Members were satisfied that the Police had made every effort to work with the Respondent to address the problems and ensure the promotion of the licensing objectives. However, the Committee unanimously felt that the fundamental cause of the problems at the premise was the involvement of Ms Cooper as the Premise Licence Holder.
Members considered all of the evidence and the mitigation and were satisfied that there was sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the licensing objectives had been undermined at the premise.
Members were of the view that the root cause of the problems at the premise rested with the Premise Licence Holder. The Committee, therefore, resolved that the most appropriate step in the circumstances was to revoke the Premise Licence in order to promote the licensing objectives pursuant to section 52(4)(e) of the Licensing Act 2003. This was deemed to be proportionate given the seriousness of the incidents at the premise, which included a persistent breach of licensing conditions and inappropriate behaviour of the Premise Licence holder.
Members balanced their decision to revoke the licence against the potential financial impact for the Respondent, noting that the Respondent held a ten year lease of the premise. However, the evidence presented by the Police was so compelling that the Committee were satisfied that the revocation of the licence was deemed to be proportionate.
After giving consideration to all of the evidence both written and oral in this matter, the Committee therefore resolved:-
To revoke the premises licence