Verdict means former mayor can keep pub

Aigars Balsevics, Former Mayor of Wisbech arrives at court

Cllr Aigars Balsevics, former Mayor of Wisbech arrives at court last month. - Credit: Terry Harris

Publican and former mayor Cllr Aigars Balsevics has won his right to retain the Angel in Wisbech – but with conditions.  

Fenland District Council had stripped him of the right to run the pub following a licensing committee hearing into more than 20 breaches of Covid-19 regulations. 

All happened on Christmas Eve and the committee’s verdict was that Cllr Balsevics provided “little or no safeguarding for employees and customers”. 

And they felt the “motive behind this blatant disregard can only be for profit”. 

The penalties they imposed were challenged by Cllr Balsevics and Elgoods brewery and after delaying their verdict for some weeks, magistrates released their verdict to Fenland Council. 

Notice pinned to the Angel this week in Wisbech.

Notice pinned to the Angel this week in Wisbech. - Credit: Archant

A council spokesperson statement today said: “The decision of the court is to substitute the decision of the Fenland District Council made 15.03.2021 with the following: 

“The Designated Premises Supervisor, Mr A B is removed from the licence 

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“The licence is suspended for 28 days 

“The third point regarding Mr B’s nexus to the public house in managerial and/or supervisory capacity is removed, albeit on the understanding that it is not the intention of this court that our decision is used to circumnavigate the role of a distinct, trained and competent DPS at the PH.” 

The spokesperson said: “If you wish to have a copy of the full report you will need to request this from the courts.” 

The judgement means the licence suspension period has been reduced from three months to one month.  

Cllr Balsevics closed the Angel this week, pinning a note to the door explaining that it will re-open in 28 days times.  

The decision also means Cllr Balsevics will not lose the right to retain a lease on the pub but both he and the brewery will need to find an alternative Designated Premises Supervisor. 

Fenland licensing committee’s preference for a condition to be attached to the Angel licence banning the former mayor from any part of its management has been put aside.,  

The committee had requested that Cllr Balsevics “must not have any further managerial responsibility for the premises”. 

And they wanted this to include “responsibility for the day to day running of the public house” and holding any “supervisory position” associated with it.   

They had also wanted a three-month suspension of the Angel’s licence to allow the brewery to find a new DPS. 

At the appeal hearing in Peterborough Cllr Balsevics revealed he had paid a £1,000 Covid fine for serving drinks at the Angel after the 10pm Christmas Eve curfew.  

But he also said that allegations about multiple Covid breaches made by Fenland Council were never subject to a formal police interview. 

Cllr Balsevics refuted a suggestion he lost control of his customers. 

He said: “We were doing our best. I did not lose control.”  

Magistrates saw footage from inside the public house on Christmas Eve. 

Leo Charalambides, on behalf of the council, said the alleged breaches had highlighted failings in Cllr Balsevics, his staff and customers, something Cllr Balsevics disagreed with.  

But David Dadds, on behalf of the brewery and who had previously described the hearing as a “sledgehammer to crack a nut”, said it was “very difficult” to fully understand what happened.  

“There is a saying where you throw enough mud and hope some sticks, and I’m concerned mud throwing has taken place,” he said.  

“The police have dealt with the matter by way of a fixed penalty notice, and looking forwards, the licensing objectives will be met.” 

Mr Dadds added that a three-month suspension placed on Cllr Balsevics was “disproportionate” and that removal of managerial responsibility would “not be acceptable”.  

Mr Charalambides said the alleged breaches had highlighted failings in Cllr Balsevics, his staff and customers, something Cllr Balsevics disagreed with.  

Mr Charalambides told him: “The evening can be characterised by your best not being good enough.”  

Cllr Balsevics said he “did not intend to break the rules and I could have done better on that night. I should have had extra staff that night.”