The Licensing Committee has rejected an application from Boston Tea Party to extend its hours, and to sell drinks without food.
Particular store was set by objections from local residents concerned by existing noise levels, and worried by the prospect of anti-social behaviour.
Worryingly though, the Committee still does not appear to understand its own policy - the Cumulative Impact Area.
Boston Tea Party (at the old Conservative Club) were granted a licence 6 months ago to sell alcohol until 8:00 pm, with meals. Their new application was to extend the hours to 11:00, and to serve alcohol without food.
As local councillor Daniella Radice pointed out, despite BTP's protestations that it was all about the food, the application would turn the premises from a cafe into a pub.
Nearby residents emphasised the existing levels of noise and disturbance from people drinking and smoking outside, even in wet weather. They pointed out that the area is already "awash with pubs and restaurants", so there is no need for another late night drinking venue.
The Committee rejected the application on these grounds :
- they believed that public nuisance would be undermined if granted
- they gave great weight to residents' concerns regarding noise nuisance and looked to see if these could be overcome with conditions on the licence but found that these concerns could not be assuaged through conditions
- a 23:00 hours finish would affect the sleep of the particular demographic within the immediate vicinity
- they felt that alcohol without food would materially change the nature of the premises and would lead to the licensing objectives being undermined.
So far, so good, and an excellent result for those living near to this corner of the Gloucester Road.
However, the councillors who put in a shift on the Licensing Committee still do not seem to understand the implications of the Cumulative Impact Area (CIA)
At the beginning of the report on the Reasons for Decision, the Committee states that it noted that the premises are located in a Cumulative Impact Area, and that the effect of a CIA is "to create a rebuttable assumption that applications for new premises licences or material variations will normally be refused .... unless it can be demonstrated by the applicant that the operation of the premises in question will not add to the cumulative impact already being experienced in the area."
As for Boston Tea Party's "demonstration" :
"With respect to the CIA, they believed they were a unique venue as they offered free range organic food made on site and there were no premises as independent in the area"
A Bishopston resident might reply that we were doing organic and free range long before BTP wandered in.
And independent? As independent as the other 16 BTPs in the chain?
But worse than the applicant's non-answer is the Committee's skewed take on its own policy :
"The Committee, having carefully deliberated, agreed that the application was a major variation but that the CIA was not triggered because the hours applied for did not encroach on what was considered the normal sleeping times of residents."
You will study that sentence a long time before you find in it any mention of "cumulative impact", "rebuttable assumption" or "demonstrated by the applicant". No, as long as the locals are not kept awake much after midnight (which is the cut-off point the police are worried about), then the assumption will be that the CIA does not apply.
So why does the Bishopston Society continue to bother to object to licensing applications in the Gloucester Road CIA? Firstly, because if there is no objection, the Committee is legally obliged to grant it, CIA or no CIA. And secondly, to try to hold back the licensing creep of which this application is such a glaring example.