Application for Variation of a Premises Licence.
RECEIVED the application made by Celtic Cross Limited for the premises situated at The Winchmore, Public House, 235 Winchmore Hill Road, London, N21 1QA for a Variation of Premises Licence LN/201500123.
1. The introduction by Ellie Green, Principal Licensing Officer, including:
a. The application was for a variation of premises licence LN/201500123, made by Celtic Cross Limited for the premises The Winchmore, 235 Winchmore Hill Road, London N21 1QA.
b. This premises had been operated as a bar / pub / restaurant / function room for a number of years. It had a significant licensing history, but under former licence holders. There had not been licensing issues under the current licence holder, who had been in place since June 2015. The Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) remained the same: Mark Walsh. The Company Directors were Mark Walsh and his sister Eimear Walsh.
c. The original application in Annex 2 of the report had recently been amended as the applicants had tried to address the representations. The first supplementary report set out the hours applied for in Table 2. These times and activities were to be referred to in this hearing. The application sought a one hour extension for live and recorded music on Friday and Saturday, and an extension of hours on Sundays that preceded all Bank Holiday Mondays.
d. The original application had initially been subject to representations from the Metropolitan Police and from the Licensing Authority, both seeking modification of licence conditions. Those conditions had been agreed by the applicant and the representations were consequently withdrawn. The agreed proposed conditions were set out in Annex 5 of the report.
e. The application attracted 19 representations in objection from local residents (set out in Annex 3 of the report), and 2 representations in support from a ward councillor and a local resident (set out in Annex 4).
f. Since IP13 had withdrawn their representation following the amendments to the application this objection should no longer be considered. The other 18 representations in objection remained. These residents lived on Winchmore Hill Road, Houndsden Road, and Church Hill.
g. It was for the Licensing Sub Committee (LSC) to consider whether the application supported the four licensing objectives.
h. The applicant was represented by Flint Bishop Solicitors and both company directors.
i. Apologies had been received from IP4. Notification had been received from most of the IPs that their representations remained to the amended application, but even without such notification the LSC must consider those original representations.
j. Councillor Derek Levy (ward councillor) was in attendance as SUP02 in support of the application.
k. It was confirmed that not living locally did not prevent submission of a representation of support.
2. The statement of George Domleo, Solicitor, on behalf of the applicant, including:
a. It was acknowledged this premises had a background history, but his client had been the premises licence holder and DPS since 03/06/15.
b. The premises was a community pub with an extensive food and drink offering. Time and money had been invested to make it a success and an asset to the area. It hosted a regular book club and supported the Rotary Club of Edmonton.
c. Conditions requested by the Licensing Authority and the Police were agreed and their representations were subsequently withdrawn so there were now no representations from Responsible Authorities.
d. There were representations from local residents. A number referenced car parking and allegations that customers parked in surrounding roads. This was not a material consideration under the Licensing Act. There were also references to customers gathering in numbers outside, with photos and video footage from June 2020. This was when the premises offered take away service during Covid restrictions. During those times, the premises was working within government guidelines, but the situation was new to everyone. Staff were continually going outside the premises to clear up. The premises was busy selling take away pints and there was a different clientele. It was likely those customers would not return and the premises would go back to normal use. That had been a different period and was very much an isolated occasion last summer. It was likely that Responsible Authorities would have made representation if they considered there would be similar issues in future.
e. Having heard residents’ concerns, the application was subsequently amended to affect Sunday hours only on days before a Bank Holiday Monday. This would provide more flexibility to the premises. Many pubs similarly operated an extra hour on those dates. One resident had subsequently withdrawn their representation, and IP10 no longer objected to these Sunday extensions.
f. The application was not seeking to trade longer or stay open later on Fridays and Saturdays.
g. The current licence conditions would be replaced by the agreed set of conditions set out in Annex 5 of the report.
h. Additional information to support the application set out over pages 25 to 30 was highlighted, with many supportive comments and donations showing the pub was an integral part of the local community.
i. There were two formal representations of support for the application, including from the ward councillor. It was a great tribute to Mark and Eimear Walsh and all they had achieved as licence holders. The premises had a chequered past, but since 2015 there had been no issues. It was evident that since the latest licence holders took over they had created a community hub for everyone to enjoy and which supported the licensing objectives.
j. There would be no change of concept of the premises. It would continue to trade for the local community. There would be great food and beverage offering, giving a home from home experience. Work with charities would continue.
k. In the case of any noise issues, there were powers available including licence reviews and abatement notices.
l. The LSC should support the business’s right to operate. In the current circumstances this was more critical than ever. The premises promoted the licensing objectives and the licence holders knew what they were doing. This was a sensible proposal and the premises should be allowed to flourish.
m. Eimear Walsh confirmed that she backed everything in the solicitor’s statement. She and Mark acknowledged there were residents close by and made themselves available all the time for the residents, with mobile numbers provided to enable them to make contact. They were trying to take actions to prevent the business going under, and were working with the Council and within the licensing objectives.
3. The applicants and representative responded to questions as follows:
a. In response to Councillor Alexandrou’s queries regarding how potential nuisance from customers and from music would be controlled, the agreed conditions were referenced including keeping external doors and windows closed during regulated entertainment, and making regular boundary noise checks and keeping records. It was advised that neighbours could contact the licence holders and that any issues would be addressed straight away.
b. In response to Councillor Hamilton’s query regarding customers drinking outside in the street and causing nuisance, it was advised that the photos and video were from the time when the premises was closed but able to trade in take away beer last summer. There was no evidence of similar issues before lockdown. Those were not normal circumstances. The premises did not have security staff on the door because there was no trouble. There was no condition on the licence requiring door staff. This was a community pub which was family friendly. The staff asked customers to respect the neighbours. The premises wanted local residents to come in, and it worked well with the local community.
c. In response to queries from the Chair, it was confirmed there was no requirement to keep an incident log within the existing licence conditions. If there had been incidents, action would have been taken. They were not aware of any incidents however, and if there had been any issues the Police would have made representation in respect of this application. Mark Walsh confirmed they had never had trouble on this site.
d. IP5 queried the statement there had never been incidents at the premises, highlighting the photos taken last summer and that lots of local residents had been afraid to leave their homes. They wanted no repeat of this, and feared that similar customers may be attracted to the pub.
e. IP14 asked in respect of offering later music and likely parties in the function room, whether the staff would be able to police multiple amounts of customers and everyone leaving at the same time late at night. It was confirmed that the pub had a policy in place in respect of people leaving, and that opening times would remain the same regardless of the music played. People would be leaving at the same times as they had for the previous six years. The staff were able to control this. There was already a condition for a dispersal policy. It was advised that this policy included the requirement for signage asking people to respect neighbours and leave quietly, that taxis be asked to pull into the car park, that staff patrolled outside areas and moved people on, and that the gate was locked once everyone had left.
f. In response to IP17, confirmation was given that the DPS understood their responsibilities and the potential problems that came with selling alcohol, and also their responsibilities under the licensing objectives.
g. In response to IP17’s queries regarding the aims of the variation and the business plan, it was advised that nothing had changed in the business plan. They wanted to add value to the community, and to give customers a good experience and a good product range. Approval of the variation would provide an increased degree of flexibility for the business. In response to a further query whether the reason for the application was to increase profit, it was advised that it would add value, but the business was not making profit and was in debt.
h. In response to IP17’s query whether approval of the variation would likely attract a younger client base and increased anti-social behaviour, this was advised as not the case.
i. IP17 asked whether the evidence within the representations was disputed. It was clarified by the applicant that they were putting their case forward and believed that the premises promoted the licensing objectives, and it was for all parties to put their case and for the LSC to make a decision.
j. The Chair gave a reminder in respect of confining questions to material licensing considerations, and a recommendation to summarise all remaining questions together if possible.
k. In response to IP17’s query in respect of Enfield’s public space protection order designation, it was confirmed that this was covered under Condition 18 of the licence.
l. In response to IP1’s queries in respect of the outside space, it was clarified that they could not make more space outside, but wanted the extra hour applied for. There was no change proposed to the business concept outside, and the premises would continue to trade as before.
m. IP1 queried statements that there had been no incidents or issues raised, being aware of multiple emails from residents to the Council’s noise team in respect of music volume, and occasions when the Police had been called out. It was advised that there was not evidence in the agenda pack, that the applicants were not aware of those emails, and that the Police had not submitted an objection. The Chair confirmed that all the written representations in objection to the application would be taken into consideration.
4. The statement of IP14 on behalf of the local residents making representation, including:
a. There were good reasons why this application should not be permitted.
b. There had been concerns about the volume of music at the premises over a number of years. The building was not sound-proofed. The noise could be clearly heard within 100 yards of the pub.
c. Local residents were entitled to a decent night’s sleep. If they were unable to sleep before midnight that would be unfair. An extra hour of music would be problematic and cause a lot of distress. There were a lot of families and young children living close to the premises who would be affected.
d. This area was generally quiet after 7:00pm, which meant that loud music could be noticed more clearly.
e. It was considered the application was not properly advertised. A lot of local residents were not aware of the proposal. The sign was in the window of a closed pub during a time people were asked to stay at home. The applicants should have approached the local residents directly, and acted on their concerns. At a time when everyone was suffering in the pandemic, this left a bad taste and atmosphere of mistrust.
f. Last year’s anti-social behaviour could not be ignored. It went on for two months. The extended music applied for would act as an extra attraction to this clientele.
g. All activities would finish at the same time. It was not considered there was an adequate dispersal policy in place to cope with the customers. The local residents had suffered verbal abuse from people leaving late at night from the pub and people affected by alcohol. The proposals would lead to a bottleneck with people leaving the pub at the same time around 1:00am.
h. The issues were emotive. If this was a local pub it had to act for the community. These proposals were a step too far. Residents asked that they were listened to and that music was not permitted past 11:00pm.
i. IP17 added that it was considered this application was based purely on financial considerations. If granted, it would change the client base to become a young persons’ drinking and music establishment as opposed to a community pub. The operators had not demonstrated an ability to control matters.
5. The IPs responded to questions as follows:
a. Councillor Alexandrou asked about when local residents had contacted the licence holders; if dialogue had been effective and that action been taken in response. IP14 confirmed that the contact they had was on the basis that the residents were listened to and there would not be any application for a late licence. There had been meetings in the pub where residents expressed that late night music would be disturbing. The residents understood the financial difficulties, but felt that this extension of music would have a terrible effect on them. IP1 advised that they had made calls to the pub when disturbed by music, but had never spoken to Mark or Eimear Walsh who had never been there at the time. Staff had always been friendly and given assurances that the music would soon be finishing. They had been able to bear the music until 11:00pm, but an extra hour of noise disturbance would make a big difference.
b. Councillor Levy highlighted additional steps to be taken by the applicant to promote the licensing objectives and asked if they were considered appropriate and proportionate, and whether specific additional conditions were sought. It was confirmed by IPs that neighbouring residents objected to any music beyond 11:00pm as intolerable, and that the premises’ attraction as a party venue would increase, and large numbers of people would be leaving at the same time. The music could be heard from outside the premises as there was no sound-proofing and the noise escaped when customers used the door. The pub already had issues with noise and an extra hour of music would be a nuisance to local people.
c. In response to Councillor Levy’s query whether local residents had applied for the licence to be reviewed, it was advised that the noise had been an ongoing issue for residents for a number of years but they had not known about the review process and had lived with the disturbance. However, they may apply for a review having now realised it was a possibility.
6. The statement in support from Councillor Derek Levy, SUP02 (Southgate Ward Councillor) including:
a. He recognised this was an emotive issue, but was clear in his support for this application.
b. It was the LSC’s remit to consider whether the application demonstrated sufficient steps to promote the licensing objectives.
c. There was nothing in the agenda pack to evidence a history of noise issues.
d. The applicant was aware of their responsibilities and had operated the licence in an exemplary way.
e. He heard what was said by objectors, but much was conjecture and speculation.
f. The premises had a history of problems when it was The Willow, but for the past six years had been under this management and there had not been any application to review their licence. There was no compelling evidence against the licence holders and their steps to operate and manage the licence.
g. In respect of a licensing application, it was incumbent on the applicant to show they were taking all steps of mitigation. This was a minor variation in a popular community-oriented pub. It was for the LSC to consider if the steps were appropriate and if the conditions were strong enough to prevent potential worst excesses. Now the residents knew they were in a position to call a review of the licence, but today’s hearing was to consider this variation and most of the evidence was very general and not of sufficient weight to challenge what was sought.
h. In his view, Mark and Eimear Walsh were the epitome of responsible licence holders and the application should be granted in full.
7. Councillor Levy responded to questions as follows:
a. In response to Councillor Alexandrou’s query whether the other ward councillors for Southgate supported this application, Councillor Levy advised that he had been contacted by one fellow ward councillor who had initial reservations. Councillor Levy had shared his views and explained his knowledge of licensing and of this premises, and this had allayed the concerns and no objections were raised.
b. In response to further queries whether as a ward councillor for Southgate, Councillor Levy had received any objections against this premises, he confirmed he had never had any objections to do with this premises before reading the bundle in this hearing agenda. Also, as previous Chair of Licensing Committee he never received anything from residents around The Winchmore.
c. In response to IP14’s query that he had disputed that local residents could hear music from the pub, Councillor Levy advised that he was not in a position to dispute that and he had just made the point that he had never received any representations from residents until today. Also, Responsible Authorities had not brought any evidence that they had sufficient concerns.
d. In response to further queries regarding now having heard how the nuisance would be exacerbated after 11:00pm, Councillor Levy advised that he had highlighted there were additional conditions on the licence being proposed and these were agreed with the Responsible Authorities. It was incumbent on the licence holder to take preventative actions. There were reasonable steps being taken to minimise the risks. No one had objected to the proposed conditions.
e. In response to IP1’s queries why objections had been labelled as based on presumption when long term residents had made numerous complaints to the Council’s noise team, Councillor Levy referred to the balance of evidence and that the applicant had put forward steps they would take to promote the licensing objectives. He was fully satisfied the measures were appropriate and proportionate. It added weight that the Responsible Authorities had not provided evidence or concerns that the application should not be granted.
f. In response to further queries that objections were based on past experience that the licence holders could not control noise up to 11:00pm and could not therefore be expected to be controlled up to 00:00am, Councillor Levy considered the licence holders had taken reasonable steps in the application, as they had in the past, and that there was a lack of evidence from the past.
g. A question on the consultation process was directed to the Principal Licensing Officer. It was clarified that the Licensing Act dictated how an application was advertised. It required a blue notice on the front of the premises displayed for 28 consecutive days and an advertisement in a local newspaper. There had been no amendments to the regime. The Licensing Team was satisfied that the criteria were met in this case. It was also confirmed that ward councillors were copied in to all licensing applications in their ward.
8. The summary statement from Ellie Green, Principal Licensing Officer, that having heard from the representatives of all the parties and received all the written evidence, it was for the sub-committee to determine the appropriate steps to take. The relevant guidance and policies were highlighted.
9. The summary statement from the IPs that they were wholly against this variation application in a quiet local area. They believed the pub’s atmosphere would become more like a nightclub and local residents would be made to suffer on Friday and Saturday until 01:00am. Nothing at the hearing had changed their view that the licence holders would not be able to control the situation at the pub. The residents’ rights to a family life and peaceful enjoyment of their properties would be undermined. Long-time residents were clear that noise was an obvious issue. The premises had no sound-proofing and there was no commitment to put any in. What happened after closing time was also an issue as customers created disturbance well after then and this would be extended at weekends.
10. The summary statement of Councillor Levy that the applicant had taken reasonable steps in promotion of the licensing objectives. The evidence was that this premises was a community pub, and there was nothing to suggest it would be like a nightclub. He believed the case in favour had been fully made out and he supported the application in full.
11. The summary statement on behalf of the applicant that it was acknowledged this was an emotive topic. An additional condition was offered that a telephone number for the DPS or manager of the premises be given to any resident on request to allow complaints to be made directly when the premises was open, and a record would be kept of calls and action taken, and this would be made available to the responsible authorities. However, this was not an application for a late licence and there would be no change in concept or clientele at the pub, but the variation would give them more flexibility. There was no record of nuisance. Last summer had been an unprecedented time. That two month period should not determine this decision. Mark and Eimear Walsh were good operators and all the conditions showed they would continue to promote the licensing objectives. They wanted a positive relationship with local residents and there should be no issues, but objectors did have powers to take action. Eimear Walsh added that she had sent emails to the residents she knew and that she tried to run the business with both her head and her heart. The extra hour for music would help the business slightly but would not change the customer clientele. She did not want the pub to change, and she would continue to work with the local community.
1. In accordance with the principles of Section 100(a) of the Local Government Act 1972 to exclude the press and public from the meeting for this item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 7 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Act.
The Panel retired, with the legal representative and committee administrator, to consider the application further and then the meeting reconvened in public.
2. The Chair made the following statement:
“The Licensing Sub-committee has attentively listened to and considered the written and oral representations made by the applicant, the applicant’s representative and the local residents, IP1 to IP19 (except IP13) and those in support of the application, SUP01 and SUP02 (Cllr Derek Levy councillor for the ward). The Licensing Sub-Committee has made a decision:
To grant the application for the licence variation in part, with the below conditions and amended times.
The Licensing Sub-Committee has also taken into account statutory guidance and the Enfield Licensing Policy Statement in making its decision to amend the hours set out in the application in particular paragraphs 8.4 and 12 Special Factors for Consideration and it has made its decision to promote the four licensing objectives 1) Prevention of crime and disorder 2) Public Safety 3) Prevention of Nuisance and 4) the Protection of children from harm. The Licensing Sub-Committee has welcomed and acknowledged that the applicant has agreed to a number of conditions to mitigate issues moving forward.”
3. The Licensing Sub-Committee resolved that the application be GRANTED IN PART.
(i) Licensing Hours and Activities:
Opening hours Sunday to Thursday 09:00 to 23:30
Friday & Saturday 09:00 to 00:30
NO SEASONAL VARIATION
Supply of alcohol (on and off) Sunday to Thursday 10:00 to 23:00
Friday and Saturday 10:00 to 00:00
NO SEASONAL VARIATION
Plays (indoors) Friday & Saturday 09:00 to 00:00
Live Music (indoors) Sunday to Thursday 09:00 to 23:00
Friday & Saturday 09:00 to 23:30
NO SEASONAL VARIATION
Recorded Music (indoors) Sunday to Thursday 09:00 to 23:00
Friday & Saturday 09:00 to 23:30
NO SEASONAL VARIATION
(ii) Conditions (in accordance with Annex 5):
Conditions 1 to 18