‘Mud-slinging’ claims at Ponteland restaurant licensing hearing
The venue submitted plans to Northumberland County Council in June to open a new outdoor bar and seating area.
But the brains behind the scheme claim their application has been delayed by the tactics employed by commercial rivals in the village.
“[Some of the representations come from] what I will call trade objectors,” lawyer Richard Arnot, representing Rialto owner Sunah Miah, told the local authority’s licensing hearing.
“I’m not saying that they shouldn’t be here, but their job is to throw as much mud in our direction as they possibly can in the hope that some of it sticks.
“They have their clients’ takings to protect and they don’t want us to open because they see us as a threat.”
In 2018, Rialto was the venue for a “bonding” meal between Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, then manager Rafa Benitez and the rest of the playing squad.
Mr Arnot was responding to a submission by representatives of Danieli Holdings, which operates Ponteland restaurant Yolo, as well as Stack Newcastle, calling the proposals “wholly alien” to the village.
According to papers lodged with the county council, the venue, in Main Street, is seeking permission to begin serving food and drink in an outdoor area at the back of the main restaurant.
If approved, it would allow live music and alcohol sales until midnight, seven days a week, although bosses have claimed actual operating hours would only be until 11pm Sunday – Thursday and 11.30pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
Paul Holliday, who addressed the council panel to speak in favour of the proposals, claimed the intention was to recreate a “Victorian market” and “put something back into the village”.
He added: “We know what the village needs and we know what will take it to the next stage.
“You could just say we’ll put a block of flats [on the site], but Ponteland has got too many flats, it needs to be something of character and that’s what we’re proposing.”
Mr Holliday denied suggestions the venue planned to show live sport, insisting “we haven’t thought about that”.
The licensing hearing is due to continue today (Friday), with a decision expected later.