Former mayor begins court battle to retain pub
- Credit: Terry Harris
Former Wisbech mayor Aigars Balsevics has begun his appeal against a decision by Fenland District Council to ban him from running one of his public houses.
The hearing opened before magistrates in Peterborough.
The court listing says Cllr Balsevics is appealing against the council’s decision – as licensing authority – to remove his premises supervisor licence for the Angel.
Grounds for the appeal are that “the decision in this regard was made against the weight of evidence adduced at the hearing”.
He is also claiming “it is in the public interest that the premises licence is not varied or suspended”.
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His legal team also notified the court that “further grounds” may be raised during the appeal hearing.
The hearing that suspended his licence for three months – with a condition that he also must no longer have “any further managerial responsibility” for the Angel - was made on March 15.
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In court today is our reporter Dan Mason
Our reporter attending the hearing is Dan Mason, and he says the hearing opened with statements from both sides. There was then a short and unexplained delay for submissions and the court was cleared.
Opening on behalf of Cllr Balsevics, his legal representative David Dadds told the court: “There is no complaint (about The Angel) before that date (December 24) and no complaints after that date.
“Fenland District Council want to allege a crime. We will look for Fenland District Council to take the right approach and show the likelihood of the licensing objectives being promoted.
“This is very political as the designated premises supervisor (DPS) was the mayor and councillor.
“Fenland District Council’s decision is wrong and they should give a warning, and no more.”
For the council. Leo Charalambides said: “We were in Tier 2 on December 24 and this premises has been open from at least 3pm until past 10pm.
“There was no food, standing up. The context was we were in a pandemic, moving together to combat the scourge we were under. It is clearly disorder.
“The DPS is a public figure, councillor and a mayor. This publican, this elected councillor, had a big p**s-up in a pub.
“The generous decision by Fenland District Council (suspending licence) remains a right decision.”
Cllr Balsevics is being supported today by his successor as mayor, Cllr Andrew Lynn and the leader of Wisbech town council, Cllr Sam Hoy.
At the licensing hearing earlier this year Cllr Balsevics was told his actions on Christmas Eve when the pub breached Covid-19 guidelines had “undermined” health and safety legislation.
The committee made clear their findings did not deprive Cllr Balsevics from running his two other pubs.
They argued his three-month suspension would give Elgoods time to find a new DPS (designated premises supervisor) for the Angel.
Cllr Balsevics was told that it was clear he was unable to operate the Angel “in accordance with relevant health and safety and public health legislation”.
Alleged offences included “hugging, kissing, shaking hands and even mock fighting/wrestling” at the Alexandra Road pub on Christmas Eve.
The hearing continues