To determine the application for a variation to a premises licence made by Westbourne Leisure Ltd trading as Strawberry Bank Hotel, 72 Main Road, Meriden, Coventry, CV7 7NF
Licensing Act – Variation Strawberry Bank Hotel
The Licensing Act Panel had carefully read the report and heard from the applicant’s barrister Leo Charalambides.(LC).
LC reminded the Panel that this was an application to vary the premises licence and not a review. He submitted that they must not look at mere ‘anxieties’ and reminded us that no responsible authorities had objected such as public safety, police or licensing etc.
LC also submitted that the hotel were surprised by the objections received by neighbours and that silence from the responsible authorities indicated their support for the variation.
It was helpful to hear from LC that the operation of hotel would not change as the variation was for an outdoor mobile drink server and that this would promote the licensing objectives as there would be more staff, including a manager who would always be present outdoors when a licensable activity took place. This would help manage potential noise complaints.
LC advised all events at the hotel were risk assessed including all outdoor events.
LC also referred to the hotel’s ‘disclosure bundle’ which he submitted listed as many people supporting the variation from the wider community as much as those objecting.
We were correctly reminded not to take into account non licensing related matters such as planning/highways/parking etc.
Ward Councillor Allsopp reminded the Panel of the objections we had already read about in the report.
LC confirmed that there had been no further complaints against the hotel since September 2020.
The panel went into private session to consider the submissions made and answers to the queries raised as well going through the numerous objections raised to the variation. These were mainly due to noise issues historically and concerns as to further noise issues.
The Panel felt it was very harsh for LC to claim that the objections were merely due to ‘anxiety’. The objections referred to dates and incidents of previous noise emanating from the premises. Indeed, the hotel on one occasion accepted there was an issue with noise due to a band playing excessive base.
The Panel didn’t agree that silence from the responsible authorities necessarily meant that they had supported the variation and the submission that claimed the council had ‘highest regard’ for the hotel was not considered relevant when taking into account the 4 licensing objectives.
Mr Gill highlighted to LC that his disclosure bundle contained list of ‘supporters’ who were not from the community and very little if any were neighbours. In fact, some of them were from Cheltenham and Coventry, and not Meriden residents.
There was no reason for the Panel to not accept that the hotel was indeed concerned that their guests were not unduly disturbed by noise and that all external events would therefore conclude by 10pm.
After lengthy discussions the Panel, reluctantly on this occasion, agreed to grant the variation. As LC advised, more than once, this was not a review but an application to vary and the hotel’s purpose of that variation was simply to add a ‘bar server’ outdoors. Although there appeared to be no further complaints since September, we would remind all objectors that should there be excessive noise as to compromise the promotion of the licensing objectives they can complain to management, police and council officers. A decision can then be made on a potential review where many matters, which LC advised couldn’t be considered or amended at the variation, can be considered and reviewed at a ‘review’ hearing.
The Panel were grateful for LC agreeing the following conditions on the variation on behalf of the hotel, that:
 All licensable activities in the outside
areas of the garden and carpark to cease at 10pm; any orders of
alcohol sold in an outside server area to cease at 9.40pm.
 Any licensable activities in the outside car park area are to be ancillary to community events (such as hog roast, a farmers market, Christmas market, coffee van or pizza van etc.)
 Any alcohol served in the outside car park area shall only be sold in polycarbonate glass
 The premises licence holder shall supply and publish contact details (including a direct telephone number) for the use of local residents.
 The agreed conditions in Appendix F, which read:-
1. CCTV covering the interior and exterior of the premises (including any outside seating area/smoking shelter) will be installed and shall be kept operational at all times the premises are open to the public.
· It shall be capable of taking a head and shoulders shot of persons entering the premises, of recording images to an evidential standard in any light and be capable of storing images for a minimum of 31 days;
· All staff who may work front of house shall be trained to operate the CCTV system and download images;
· At least one member of staff trained to operate the CCTV system and download images shall be on duty at all times the premises are open to the public. Footage shall be shown to the police and screenshots provided to them on request. Copies of downloaded images shall be provided to the police on a USB stick, CD or other acceptable means as soon as possible and, in any case, within 24 hours of the request.
2. An incident book shall be kept at the premises, and made available to the police or authorised council officers, which will record the following:-
· All crimes reported;
· Lost property;
· All ejections of customers;
· And complaints received;
· Any incidents of disorder;
· Any seizure of drugs or offensive weapons;
· Any faults in the CCTV;
· Any refusal in the sale of alcohol;
· Any visit by a relevant authority or emergency service;
· All perimeter checks and toilet checks, including any drug swab results, either conducted by staff, police or responsible authority; and
3. The licence holder (or his/her nominees) shall conduct regular assessments of the noise coming from the premises on every occasion the premises are used for regulated entertainment and shall take steps to reduce the level of noise where it is likely to cause disturbance to local residents.