Alnwick venue calls time on costly condition on licence

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An Alnwick pub has managed to get rid of a ‘draconian’ condition on its licence which was costing the business £15,500 a year.

Following a Northumberland County Council licensing hearing on Monday (January 28), it was agreed to change two conditions for The Plough on Bondgate Without, which is also a restaurant and hotel.

One, which has now been removed, required two door staff to be employed from 9pm to closing on Fridays, Saturdays, public holidays and each day before a public holiday.

The other previously required nobody to use the outdoor patio at the back of the building after 8.30pm, despite the front terrace remaining in use, but this has now been amended to 11pm.

To mitigate any concerns about these changes, Punch Taverns offered four further conditions, which included carrying out risk assessments to determine if door staff are required for certain events/nights and creating an outdoor area management plan.

These were accepted by the licensing committee, which added an additional requirement to install a CCTV camera covering the rear patio.

Piers Warne, of TLT Solicitors, representing Punch Taverns, had explained that the door-staff condition costs £15,500 a year ‘so is a very significant cost’, while the limit on the outdoor space is ‘frustrating for people booking functions’ as it is right next to the event space in the Coach House, but guests have to go all the way through the pub to the front terrace after 8.30pm.

“The conditions were probably appropriate at the time they were imposed, but they are not now appropriate or proportional to how the business operates,” he said.

“We want to remove some draconian conditions, but replace them with others which address the licensing objectives.”

The application has attracted one representation from a neighbouring couple, who argued that there ‘was no compelling reason’ why the outdoor condition should be varied, adding that there had been ‘numerous breaches’ over the years.

There were no objectors in attendance at the hearing and Mr Warne highlighted that there had been no representations from other residents, the police or the council’s environmental health and licensing teams.

He added that they had never had a complaint from the McCarthy and Stone retirement complex next door.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service