Outgoing mayor gets his day in court to appeal licence ban

Cllr Aigars Balsevics, the mayor of Wisbech,

Cllr Aigars Balsevics, the outgoing mayor of Wisbech, has appealed a decision of Fenland Council licensing committee to ban him from running the Angel. Peterborough magistrates will hear the appeal on September 23. - Credit: Terry Harris

An appeal hearing to determine whether outgoing Wisbech mayor Aigars Balsevics can continue to run the Angel Inn will be heard on September 23. 

Peterborough magistrates confirmed the date yesterday (Thursday). 

Appeal grounds are that the decision to ban him running the pub was made “against the weight of evidence adduced at the hearing”. 

It is also claimed that is in “the public interest that the premises licence is not varied or suspended”. 

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.  

Fenland District Council’s licensing committee said the condition “will still apply should there be a change of name for the premises while a premises licence is in place authorising the sale or supply of alcohol”. 

Cllr Balsevics was told his actions on Christmas Eve when the pub breached Covid-19 guidelines had “undermined” health and safety legislation. 

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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. 

Brenda Barber, mother of former Wisbech mayor Cllr Steve Tierney, told the hearing she was a customer of the Angel and offered her support for Cllr Balsevics.  

She said: “The Angel is like a community hub and I think it would be a tragedy if the premises lost its licence.  

“I have always found Aigars to be a conscientious and professional publican.” 

Trevor Darnes, a senior environmental health officer at Fenland Council, said the CCTV footage obtained by police showed “clear breaches” of the licensing objectives (public safety and prevention of crime and disorder).  

Mr Darnes said Cllr Balsevics must have seen people not adhering to Covid rules and that he committed “many breaches himself, such as not washing hands and not wearing a face covering”. 

Cllr Balsevics was also given a £1,000 fixed penalty notice.