Lack of ‘corroborated evidence’ by councillor who complained so Georges can keep live music without employing door staff
11:10 18 February 2014
A March publican has won his battle to keep live music without having to employ door staff that could have threatened his livelihood.
Fenland Council licensing committee concluded that councillor Kit Owen, who called for a review of Georges’ licence, had not produced sufficient evidence to justify Nigel Marsh employing door staff on music nights.
He had claimed at a licensing hearing last week that residents had raised “sufficient and numerous” incidents to merit the council insisting door staff should be employed.
Cllr Owen also referred to “fighting and lack of control” but said it was not a personal attack on Georges “since I live too far away from it, but I do care because of the people who live nearby”.
But Councillor Kay Mayor, in a delayed ruling issued late on Monday, said: “There was a lack of corroborated evidence to implement the use of SIA (Security Industry Authority) door staff as requested by Cllr Owen”.
During an interval during the hearing Mr Marsh had agreed to keep a middle front door closed after 11pm and to monitor noise outside the pub at hourly intervals on music nights.
But the council has decided more draconian interventions are neither needed nor necessary.
The hearing had broken up without a firm decision after barrister Matthew Paul, on behalf of Georges, had questioned whether the council had the right to stage a review so soon after a previous hearing in October to consider a licence extension.
And Mr Paul had also queried if the council alone had the right to raise other issues bearing in mind the police had brought forward no objections and the council’s own licensing team had been forced at the 11th hour to withdraw their representations for legal reasons.
But Cllr Mayor insisted that oral and written evidence by Chris and Jamie Wilcox who live opposite “indicates incidences of both crime and disorder and public safety. “There is also evidence throughout the agenda of further incidents.”
She said advice taken by her committee was that public nuisance could include low level noise “perhaps affecting a few people living locally as well as major disturbances affecting the whole community”.
In her committee’s ruling Cllr Mayor said that “if entertainment music noise from Georges is clear and distinct, for example if lyrics are identifiable, then the volume of music must be turned down to such an extent that the entertainment music noise is no longer clear and distinct at the same location opposite Georges outside Bevills Place on the High Street”.
Mr Marsh said: “Georges live music continues thanks to its supporters. However Fenland Council loses respect from a vast segment of the community with its verdict that the pub is somehow a ‘public nuisance’”.
Mr Marsh said he was angry that he was forced into an expensive hearing based on “very little evidence which was only ever hear say and where Councillor Owen jumped in without the right procedures being followed.
“But Georges believes it has won the dispute as no door staff have been forced to be taken on although we get the feeling Fenland Council does not understand or support small businesses.”