Agenda item - White Horse, Camelford Street, Brighton

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Agenda item

White Horse, Camelford Street, Brighton

Report of the Assistant Director of Public Safety (copy attached).


125.1      The Panel considered a report of the Assistant Director of Public Safety regarding an application for review of a premise licence under the Licensing Act 2003 for The White Horse, Camelford Street, Brighton, BN2 1TQ.


                Mr Grant from Punch Taverns, and Mr Thompson and Mr Aiano, joint lessees and managers of the premises, attended the hearing to speak in favour of the Premises Licence remaining unaltered and retained. Annie Sparks, Environmental Health Manager attended to speak as a responsible authority and Mr Middleton, Mr Lauchlan, Mrs Gordon, Mr Hansell, Mr Olympios, Mr Elliot and Mrs Dear attended the hearing to speak as interested parties.


125.2      The Senior Environmental Health Officer began his submission by stating the Premises Licence was being reviewed as representations had been received stating Prevention of Public Nuisance and Prevention of Crime and Disorder. He reminded the Panel that the options open to them were to modify the existing conditions on the licence; exclude a licensable activity from the licence; remove the Designated Premises Supervisor; suspend the licence for period not exceeding three months; revoke the licence; or do nothing.


He noted that the licence currently gave permission for regulated entertainment and live music. Strippers and themed nights had recently been advertised by the premises but there was no provision for dance on the licence. Noise Abatement Orders had been issued in November 2008 and February 2009 and a formal caution against playing any music had been given.


125.3      The Environmental Health Manager then began her representation and stated that complaints had been received about the premises since December 2007 and related to amplified music and voice disturbance from karaoke machines. Noise disturbance had also been experienced from residents living close to the back yard of the premises.


In October 2008 a petition had been received and the DPS had been made fully aware of all of the complaints. Noise diaries and tape recordings had been produced as evidence and as a result Noise Abatement Orders had been served. A statutory noise nuisance had been observed in the rear of the yard. In November 2008 a breach of the notice had been witnessed by Environmental Health Officers.


The DPS had accepted responsibility for the breach and was issued a formal caution. It was felt that a review of the licence was necessary to prevent further problems occurring at the premises and the Environmental Health Manager proposed the removal of all live and recorded music; no karaoke to take place in the premises at any time; no table and chairs to be placed in the rear yard at any time; no heaters to be placed in the rear yard at any time; no more than five people to be allowed into the rear yard at any time; the use of the rear yard to be prohibited after 23:00 hours. The Environmental Health Manager also recommended a condition to prohibit amplified voices. She stated she was concerned to see that an advert had been placed for stripper and themed nights at the premises, and had not been made aware of this until the Panel hearing.


125.4      Councillor Lepper asked what time the breaches at the establishment had occurred and the Environmental Health Manager replied that they had been around or after 23:00 and were clearly audible with the windows shut and would prevent sleep.


125.5      Councillor Lepper asked what time the premises was currently allowed Recorded Music until and the Environmental Health Manager replied that the music must not be audible after 23:00.


125.6      Councillor Marsh asked if agreement to the conditions proposed had been achieved with the applicant and the Environmental Health Manager confirmed that the applicant would be agreeable to all of the conditions.


125.7      The Chairman asked the interested parties if they had any questions of the statement of the Environmental Health Manager and Mr Middleton asked if any proposal had been offered to keep the front door closed except when in use as an egress/exit. The Environmental Health Manager confirmed that this could be a condition that the Panel wished to place on the licence, but no agreement to that effect had been reached with the Premises Licence Holder. The Premises Licence Holder confirmed they had no questions.


125.8      Mr Gordon then began his representation and stated that the number of representations made against the establishment was an indication of the scale of the problem. He stated that the premises was situated on a small residential street within a conservation area, and as such was not allowed to install double-glazing, but residents bedrooms largely faced out onto the street, which caused problems of disturbance.


Mr Gordon stated that there had been no previous problems with the premises but the new owners were aggressive when dealing with any complaints or issues raised by residents and the customers had been threatening and volatile to residents even during the day time. He stated that the residents were able to identify that problems were arising from the White Horse in particular.


125.9      Mr Andrews then began his representation and stated that he had lived in the area for sixteen years. He noted that most of that time had been enjoyable and peaceful but problems had started occurring in January 2008 and had continued until the Noise Abatement Order had been issued. Mr Andrews stated that last year had been extremely unpleasant for residents as a result of the complete failure of management of the premises. He felt there had been no engagement with the residents to resolve ongoing issues and the DPS had tried to antagonise by subjecting them to an extreme level of noise. There had been public nuisance issues including urination and vomit of customers onto residents’ properties and fighting in the street.


Mr Andrews felt that the staff of the premises followed the lead of the DPS and were disrespectful to residents concerns. He cited an incident whereby a complaint had been made about the level of music had been turned up to purposefully antagonise residents. Customers of the premises were also aggressive to residents as they had been notified of the complaints by the DPS. Mr Andrews felt that the noise nuisance had restarted and asked the Panel to revoke the licence. If they were not able to revoke the licence, Mr Andrews stated that he supported the suggested conditions of the Environmental Health Manager but asked for a reduction in the licensed hours of the premises.


125.10    Mr Middleton began his representation by stating that he had made several complaints to the premises and had asked for the front door to be closed as the sound emanating from the establishment could be heard over his television. He felt his complaints had been ignored however and had been told that the door would remain open. Mr Middleton cited and incident where the song “Its Oh So Quiet” had been played extremely loudly after a complaint about the noise levels had been made, and he felt this had been done purposely to antagonise residents. Mr Middleton had at times felt intimidated and the customers and staff had been very hostile to residents. He felt there was no indication that the premises management took complaints seriously or acted with sympathy.


125.11    Mr Lauchlan began his representation by stating that he had been aware that there was a licensed premises across the road when he had purchased the property, but there had not been any problems until last year. He felt that Brighton & Hove as a city was a tolerant place to live, but did not feel there was any toleration of the residents concerns by the premises management. He stated there were other licensed premises close by but they did not experience any problems with them.


125.12    Mrs Dear stated that she had been personally threatened by the licence holder to the extent that she had called the Police to intervene, and the level of intimidation by the premises had been extremely high.


125.13    Mr Elliott began his representation by stating that the noise disturbance from the back yard of the premises had been unbearable. The Noise Abatement Order had reduced the level of noise, but he noted that it was still winter and the back yard was unlikely to be used as frequently in this month as it would in summer. Mr Elliott was concerned that some of the conditions relating to the back yard would be difficult to enforce and requested that the Panel consider making this area out of bounds to customers to ensure that problems would not continue.


125.14    Mr Olympios began his representation by stating that the premises affected streets at the front and back of the premises. He stated that the rear of the premises was an enclosed back yard area where customers were currently permitted to smoke and this severely affected the premises that backed onto the yard in terms of noise and smell pollution.


125.15    Mr Hanson began his representation by stating that there had been no extractors installed in the back yard and so the smoke constantly affected the surrounding premises. He noted that the space was in use from the afternoon onwards and it was frequently used as another drinking area by customers.


125.15    The Chairman asked if the yard was enclosed and the Environmental Health Manager replied that it was surrounded by high buildings. She noted there was no background noise in this area to mitigate the noise created by customers using the yard and stated that sounds echoed because of this.


125.16    Councillor Marsh asked if there had been any issues or problems with the premises before the current owners took over, and Mrs Gordon replied on behalf of the residents that there had not.


125.17    Councillor Marsh was concerned about the accusations of harassment and bullying and asked if any of the other residents had called the police about the premises. Mr Lauchlan stated that he had and the Police had confirmed to him that they were familiar with the premises and the problems there.


125.18    Councillor Marsh asked if a modification of the hours of the licence would help to mitigate residents concerns and Mr Andrews recommended that the hours be reduced to Sunday – Thursday 10:00 to 23:00 and Friday to Saturday 10:00 to midnight.


125.19    The Chairman asked the Premises Licence Holders if they had any questions of the residents and they stated they did not.


125.20    Mr Grant then spoke on behalf of the Premises Licence Holders (PLHs) and stated that he did not feel there had been any one-to-one confrontations with residents over the problems at the premises, but accepted that all of the issued raised had occurred after the PLHs had taken over. He stated that the reason for the problems occurring was that the PLHs had felt the need to increase trade at the premises and abuses of the music licence had taken place, which were openly admitted as breaches by the PLHs. There had been voluntary changes to the style and running of the premises and as a result of this there had been no further problems in the last three months.


                Mr Grant stated that no more amplified music was played at the premises and all audio equipment had been removed. There had been a meeting with Environmental Health Officers and a voluntary agreement to the conditions had occurred, with the exception that the PLHs felt there was no need to install secondary glazing at the residence.


                Mr Grant stated that since the smoking ban, customers could only smoke outside the premises either on the street or in the courtyard at the back, but recognised the need to restrict this area, which was already being done by staff and CCTV would be implemented. He noted that all facilities in the yard had already been removed and the area would not be used as an extension of the premises to drink alcohol. Mr Grant confirmed there was a staff policy to regularly monitor the yard.


                Staff training had been introduced and a rigid discipline structure as Mr Grant recognised that the PLHs had been wrong in how they had dealt with complaints in the past. He stated that the PLHs had recognised the error of their ways and were changing how the business was run. He stated that the opening hours had always been adhered to and now that music was not being played at the premises, there was no need to change the closing times. If necessary, Mr Grant suggested that a 01:00 closing time would be more appropriate. He assured the Panel that all conditions would be adhered to and he was willing to open up formal communications with residents in a pleasant and open manner.


                Finally Mr Grant referred to the stripper and themed nights that had been advertised and confirmed that the stripper nights would not be going ahead, and any themed nights would not include music.


125.21    The Chairman asked about the separate entrance to the premises on St Margaret’s Street and Mr Grant stated that this was a dedicated fire exit and that there was no access from the outside to the inside.


125.22    Councillor Marsh asked whether the PLHs would accept a condition to ensure that the front door was closed at all times except when in use, and would not be propped open. Mr Grant stated that the door had been left open for the purposes of air circulation but would accept a condition to keep it closed.


125.23    Councillor Marsh asked if the PLHs would accept a condition to restrict the opening hours on Fridays and Saturdays to 10:00 to 01:00 and Mr Grant confirmed that they would accept a condition that restricted the sale of alcohol to 10:00 to 01:00.


125.24    Councillor Marsh asked if any steps were being taken to improve relationships with the residents and Mr Grant stated that the PLHs were not aware that there was a problem in this regard. He stated that he was happy to open up communications with residents on any issues they had.


125.25    Councillor Lepper asked if the PLHs were aware that they had been causing significant problems for residents and Mr Grant agreed that there had been problems. He stated that it was due to ignorance of accepting the consequences of their actions that the PLHs were here today and he did not want to justify anything that had happened, but he guaranteed it would not happen again.


125.26    Councillor Lepper expressed concern over the recent advertisement in the papers and asked how the ambience of the premises and style was changing if they were still advertising stripper and themed nights. Mr Grant stated that this was only a marketing ploy to attract more people onto the premises.


125.27    Mr Thompson stated that he and Mr Aiano had taken over the premises and found business to be very poor. They had made attempts to improve it, but understood they had made mistakes but felt that in the last three months they had worked hard to improve the premises. They now employed SASSCO Security Systems Ltd to deal with any problems that occurred in a quick and effective way.


                Mr Thompson assured the Panel that they now had the right intentions and he offered an apology to the residents for the problems that had been caused. He assured residents that their concerns would be treated with respect and politeness and that they would continue to monitor operations at the premises closely.


125.28    Councillor Lepper remained concerned that given the premises had undertaken these activities to generate more profit it may lapse back into promoting inappropriate events at the premises as the need for profit would remain. Mr Grant admitted that the income streams for the premises were under pressure, but he assured the Panel there would be no further breaches of any licence conditions, and the premises would either succeed or fail within the terms of their licence.


125.29    The Chairman asked the responsible authority and the interested parties if they had any questions for the Licence Holder and premises management.


125.30    Mr Lauchlan asked why Mr Grant had not known about the recent advertisement placed by the premises. Mr Grant explained that he was representing the landlords of the premises, but they were not involved in the day to day running of the premises or any business decisions made by the management.


125.31    Mrs Gordon asked how the residents could feel confident the premises would now start to operate in a responsible manner given the attitude of the premises management in the past, and give that a letter had been sent to residents in January 2008 promising to maintain the peace and tranquillity of the street. Mr Grant accepted this and stated that he could only ask for the residents to trust that the situation would continue to improve because there was evidence that things were now moving forwards.


125.32    Mr Olympios asked if drinks would be allowed in the courtyard and Mr Thompson stated that they would, but this would be strictly regulated and monitored to ensure that they did not stay out there.


125.33    Mr Olympios asked if there was facility to monitor noise levels outside and Mr Thompson assured him that this would also be closely monitored and if the noise became problem it would be stopped.


125.34    Mr Elliott asked if the premises management would accept a condition that did not allow drinks in the courtyard. Mr Aiano stated that it would be better for the premises to allow drinks outside, but to close the courtyard after a certain time.


125.35    The Senior Environmental Health Officer began his final submission and stated that the Panel needed to give consideration to all of the representations heard today and that any remedial action should be directed at the causes of the problems, for example removing a DPS if there were management problems at the premises. He stated that the options of suspension and revocation needed to be balanced with a need to promote business.


125.36    Mr Lauchlan spoke on behalf of the interested parties and stated that the residents had not experienced problems with this premises in the past, and wanted to get back to that situation. He felt that the Premises Licence Holder was largely unaware of the problems that were being experienced and questioned how voluntary the improvements had actually been given that they followed an enforcement notice.


125.37    Mr Grant began his final submission and stated that the terms offered by the Environmental Health Manager were acceptable and he confirmed that the premises would do everything in its power to abide by them.


125.38    RESOLVED – That the Panel decided to take the following action in respect of the review:


1.      The removal of the performance of Live Music and Recorded Music as licensable activities on the licence.


2.      The modification of conditions so that the following will now apply to the licence:


                                                        i.            No karaoke to take place in the premises at any time;

                                                      ii.            No microphones shall be used at any time;

                                                    iii.            The front door to be closed, except when used as access/egress, at all times;

                                                     iv.            The bar gate into St Margaret’s Street to be used as a fire exit only, and not as an alternative access/egress to the pub;

                                                       v.            Sale of alcohol to be allowed until 01.00 on Friday and Saturday;

                                                     vi.            No tables or chairs to be placed in the rear yard;

                                                   vii.            No heaters to be placed in the rear yard;

                                                 viii.            A maximum of five people to be allowed to smoke in the rear yard at any one time;

                                                     ix.            No drinks to be taken into the rear yard area;


The panel felt the above action would satisfy the concerns raised and uphold the four licensing objectives, especially in terms of the prevention of public nuisance, but stressed that should there be any further problems there was the opportunity for a further review.


Supporting documents:


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