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'Misunderstanding' over Beccles pub hours

PUBLISHED: 15:22 13 November 2009 | UPDATED: 08:51 01 August 2010

THE owners of a popular Beccles pub believe a 'misunderstanding' during a hearing has led to its opening hours being dramatically cut.

Following complaints of crime and disorder in the surrounding area near the Ingate in Grove Road, Suffolk police applied for a review of the premises licence.

THE owners of a popular Beccles pub believe a 'misunderstanding' during a hearing has led to its opening hours being dramatically cut.

Following complaints of crime and disorder in the surrounding area near the Ingate in Grove Road, Suffolk police applied for a review of the premises licence.

In an attempt to stamp out noise and anti-social behaviour Waveney District Council's licensing committee agreed on action at a meeting this week, leading to closing time on Friday and Saturday brought forward by two hours.

But owner and landlady Sarah Ansell plans to appeal saying she inherited the previous licence applied for by her tenants and she offered to go back to the previous opening hours.

Closing time on Sunday to Thursday evenings has been brought forward to 11pm, formerly 12.30am on weekdays and 1.30am on Sundays, while on Fridays and Saturdays the pub will shut at 11.30pm. Closing time on bank holidays, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be midnight, with a 2am closure on New Year's Eve.

On all days the sale of alcohol and other licensable activities, such as playing live and recorded music, will end half an hour before closing, meaning last orders on peak weekend evenings will be 11pm.

Mrs Ansell said: “We think that there may have been a misunderstanding during the hearing. We volunteered to revert to our former opening hours granted to us in November 2005 under the 2003 licensing act, which were slightly longer than the committee ruled. We shall, of course, be appealing this ruling.

“We are concerned though that the neighbours who may have complained about noise will find little or no difference since we believe that the majority of nuisance incidents have been caused by people returning from town late at night. We are grateful to the many loyal customers and neighbours who either wrote in or attended the hearing in our support.”

The panel took into account complaints over noise from music and from people leaving late at night, and the behaviour of customers leaving the premises. It decided that, given the pub's residential location, a reduction in hours was the appropriate response.

The notification of determination said: “In all the circumstances, on the balance of probabilities, the sub-committee found that although they sympathised with the position of the licence holder there were obviously some issues at the premises that were unresolved and leading to a persistent stream of complaints. It was clear that there had been some co-operation between the licence holder and the responsible authorities this had not been successful in addressing the issue in the long term although there were short periods of improvement.”

A spokesman for Waveney said the licensee wouldn't have to formally vary a licence to close earlier. If she felt concerned and wanted to she could close the doors at any time.

“What you can't do is extend your hours without a variation to the licence. So she could have reverted to the former hours without making any variation.”

They added that Mrs Ansell's offer to reduce the hours was mentioned in the notice of determination from the meeting so would have been put before the committee.

The new hours will not take effect until after the appeal deadline of 21 days, or after any appeal is resolved.

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