Official complaint over St Albans pub’s opening hours

The Snug Bar

The Snug Bar - Credit: Archant

Civic watchdogs have taken the unusual step of lodging an official complaint with the district council’s chief executive over the opening hours of a city centre pub.

St Albans Civic Society has made a complaint to CEO James Blake after the council reached an out-of-court agreement with The Snug in French Row, St Albans, which allows it to remain open until 2am every day of the week except Sunday.

That flew in the face of objections from local residents who protested to a district council licensing sub-committee in April about the disruption and noise they anticipated from the later opening hours.

As a result the sub-committee agreed that The Snug could only remain open until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays.

But unbeknown to the residents, the pub owner appealed against the decision and the council agreed prior to a scheduled hearing in front of magistrates, that it could open until 2am six days a week.

Residents are at a loss to understand why the council did not uphold its sub-committee’s decision and have questioned the value of democracy when a ruling can be overturned so easily.

Eric Roberts of the Civic Society who attended the the licensing sub-committee hearing said there had been no material change in the situation between the decision and the appeal and yet residents’ objections had been swept aside.

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He went on: “We have lodged a formal complaint with the chief executive over the process. The last time we did that was when planning referrals granted planning permission to Westminster Lodge after funding had been approved. Technically plans should not be pre-determined.”

Defending its decision, the council’s legal services manager, Charles Turner, said that on learning about the appeal the council had considered the grounds, available evidence, residents’ earlier representations and proposals from the applicant as part of its pre-hearing procedure.

He added: “The evidence showed that the council’s regulatory services team had no record of noise complaints for a six year period and te police had not received any complaints about disorder at the premises.”

But residents maintain that making a complaint is difficult because of the requirement to pinpoint exactly which pubs those making a disturbance had frequented so that tne nuisance could be linked to a particular licensed premises.