Kingswood venue loses licence extension bid over concerns about noise and management control

A late-night venue in Kingswood, which has been the subject of a series of concerns and complaints, has lost its bid to extend the hours of music and serving alcohol including until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays.

The licensing meeting considering the application by Rumors Lounge Bar and Pub heard from local councillor Andrea Reid that just last weekend there had been a fight at the premises in Regent Street and the police were called.

And in February there was reportedly an unprovoked assault at the venue which left a man with a broken nose.

The application to vary the premises licence was submitted to South Gloucestershire Council by agents acting for the licence holder, Wayne Houghton.

The licensing sub-committee heard that he had been issued with a final warning letter by the licensing team leader and local police inspector last summer due to breaches of COVID restrictions, licence conditions and overall management controls. Among the concerns was that on 9th July last year, door supervisors watched an assault take place outside and then admitted the perpetrator.

Mr Houghton subsequently made several changes to the operation of the premises, including a change in the company which provided door security staff. His agents said that a number of temporary events notices have been applied for over the last six months to cover later hours for the sale of alcohol, late-night refreshment and live and recorded music, with no apparent issues of either disorder or nuisance.

The police did not raise any objection to  proposed changes to the licence which included extending the sale of alcohol and music until 3am on Friday and Saturday nights and on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, and allowing later entry and re-entry until 2am.

The council’s environmental protection team had highlighted that since the premises licence was issued in December 2019, they had received 11 separate noise complaints alleging disturbances from loud music, excessive bass, bottling out late at night and noise from people being rowdy in the street after leaving the venue.

The team were however satisfied with a proposal from Rumors  to improve noise control; the meeting heard that an acoustic consultant was due to visit the venue tomorrow and remedial works to address noise concerns, including a new fire door door at the side of the club in London Street, are proposed. Hours would not be extended until the environmental protection team were satisfied with the works and a noise limiter had been set at an agreed level.

The applicant’s solicitor said that the venue is a respectable and well-run lounge bar and pub and since becoming the licence holder in 2019, Mr Houghton had actively worked to promote the licensing objectives and address historic problems of crime and disorder.

But speaking on behalf of local residents, Cllr Reid said that every Monday morning she receives phone calls from local residents complaining about the noise levels from Rumors.

She urged the sub-committee to be cautious, saying: “I think you are being asked to make a premature decision today. It’s not that I don’t want Rumors to succeed, of course I do. We need every business we can get on Kingswood High Street.

“The measures that we need to put in place to evaluate and see if they are working aren’t going to be there and there’s no fixed date to do it.”

Cllr Reid said recent incidents linked to Rumors showed that criminal behaviour has not yet been managed. She said: “I don’t put the blame for that at the door of Rumors but they do have the responsibility to take effective action.”

She said pubs and clubs have a responsibility to watch what difficult customers are doing as they leave the premises as well as inside the doors.

Whilst acknowledging that Mr Houghton had made several changes to his operation of the premises since being issued with a final warning letter, the sub-committee noted the concerns raised by Cllr Reid and a local resident who highlighted the impact the noise from the venue has on her and her neighbours.

The sub-committee was also concerned that the environmental protection team had continued to receive complaints regarding late-night noise and the overall management control at the premises. They also noted that the wording of the condition about noise control was open-ended and vague and not sufficiently clear to overcome the objections raised regarding public nuisance.

The sub-committee also said that the proposed variation of a condition to allow entry until 2am on Fridays, Saturdays, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve due to the potential for public nuisance.

The applicant has the right to appeal against the decision via the magistrates’ court.

After the meeting Cllr Reid said she was happy to facilitate a meeting between the venue and local residents, the police and local Pubwatch group to improve relations.

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