Pub hours

PUBLISHED: 12:14 07 February 2008 | UPDATED: 12:57 06 May 2010

SIR, — I refer to the article (Herts Advertiser, January 31) regarding the granting of extended drinking hours to 1:30am for The Peahen public house in St Albans. Among many representations, an occupier of Abbey Court, Holywell Hill, lodged a shocking and

SIR, - I refer to the article (Herts Advertiser, January 31) regarding the granting of extended drinking hours to 1:30am for The Peahen public house in St Albans.

Among many representations, an occupier of Abbey Court, Holywell Hill, lodged a shocking and heart-wrenching representation for the district council committee hearing cataloguing the regular effects drunken activity has on her family.

The Licensing sub-committee ignored the environmental health officer's proposed conditions as well as residents' material concerns and granted full approval without any conditions other than to restrict entry after midnight.

As you are probably aware, the Licensing Act is centred on the prevention of public nuisance and three other areas of prevention.

On December 18, 2007, I attended a licensing hearing in relation to Thai Square. The sub-committee members were Cllrs Flynn, Pia and Myland. Despite many representations being made, the committee granted full approval without any conditions.

One of the blights in the city centre has been refuse handling during the small hours, in particular glass disposal from restaurants. My children are woken up by bottles being hurled in refuse containers by restaurants up to 00:30. Thai Square is only five metres away from the nearest residential flat. The committee would not accept the residents' argument in respect of restricting the hours of collection/disposal (an example).

Following the Thai Square hearing I contacted the council's solicitor, Miss Judith Adamson who confirmed that she would not recommend conditions to be imposed at a licensing hearing "unless residents had a log or material evidence that nuisance was occurring".

When determining a fresh application such as Thai Square how is it possible for residents to have specific evidence when the business had not started trading?

Cllr. Swendell stated the word "specific" in your article. How can acts of public nuisance be attributed to a specific establishment?

Should residents hire private investigators to follows patrons on their pub crawl to ascertain the various public houses that collectively contributed to a patron committing an act of public nuisance? Is it only the last pub they attended that is relevant? Some guidance would be helpful.

The Act is centred around prevention, which the Licensing sub-committee and their legal advisers no longer seem to accept. Is there any point in residents making representations at future hearings if the council dismiss their concerns based on prevention?

My firm belief is that the main test the sub-committee's legal adviser makes at a hearing is based on the quality of the applicant's legal representation and the likelihood of a decision being challenged by the brewers in the magistrates' court.

The last paragraph of your article states: "Cllr Swendell added that appeals against the decision could be taken to St Albans magistrates." The brewers pay for top-notch solicitors or barristers. Will residents risk costs being awarded against them at magistrates court in the face of the brewers unlimited legal budgets in promoting longer hours, tempted by increased revenue?

I lodged an appeal following a licensing decision relating to the Vintry in November 2005. No hearing had been scheduled 12-months following my submission. I finally withdrew my appeal following advice from the clerk that the costs might not be insignificant should the decision go against me.

Will the press campaign to restore some democratic process back into our licensing sub-committee hearings?

JONATHAN RODWELL,

George Street, St Albans.

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