FURIOUS members of a Chester suburb say it will be a poorer place after a venue was given “nightclub-type” licensing hours”.
At a meeting of Chester West and Chester Council’s Licensing Act sub-committee yesterday, a licensing application for extended opening hours for The Suburbs cocktail bar and the adjoining At The Hollows restaurant on Charles Street was granted.
The venues – which had separate licences previously – can now open between 10am and 12.30am from Sunday to Wednesday and 10am and 1.30am on Thursday to Saturday.
Alcohol can be served up to 30 minutes before closing time.
Residents and business owners attended the meeting to voice their concerns.
They said they already experience problems with noise and disturbances into the early hours of the morning, while extending the opening times would make things worse.
Marian McCarthy, of Hamilton Street, said: “Hoole has very much a community village feel and the eateries add to that. But Hoole isn’t, and shouldn’t become, an eating and drinking destination in the same way that Pepper Street is in the centre of Chester.
“Disturbance in a local area is our main concern.
“It is not an appropriate area to have a late night licence.
“We don’t believe the existing licence is being adhered to at all, despite the reassurances we
Linda Hobbs, speaking on behalf of her partner who lives in Westminster Road, said noise was already an issue and extending opening hours would make matters worse.
She said: “When people come in and out the noise level jumps and you can hear it over the television. It is ridiculous.
“That’s when you can hear the screaming, shouting and cackling. I don’t see why Hoole needs a nightclub-type licence that goes into the early hours of the morning.”
Solicitor Richard Taylor, representing The Suburbs and At The Hollows, asked the committee to reach its decision based on “cold, hard facts rather than emotive words”.
He said neither the police nor Environmental Health had objected to the application and measures had been taken to minimise noise, such as not allowing customers to use a first floor terrace overlooking the car park.
He said: “If the police had any issue with it they would be here to tell you about it – but they
He told the committee the venue was a quality establishment. In half of the floorspace patrons would only be able to purchase alcohol at their tables from a waiter or waitress.
He added: “This is as far from a vertical drinking establishment as you can get as you have to be seated at tables.”
Hoole councillor Alex Black asked the committee to limit the opening times until 12.30am to protect residents from unwanted noise and disturbance.
In his representation to the committee, Cllr Black said: “Although there are few residents in Charles Street, nearby streets are completely residential and working people should not be disturbed in the early hours of the morning by people leaving these premises.”
Addressing the meeting, he added The Suburbs was well-named as it was situated in one of Chester’s most densely populated areas with lots of terraced houses nearby.
“I believe that as Hoole is such a densely populated area it isn’t
the right sort of place for a licensed premises to be open until 2am,” he added.
Before giving the committee's decision, chairman Cllr Lyn Clare gave residents advice on who to contact if they had complaints – the police for disturbances, Environmental Health for noise complaints, and the council's licensing officers for any suspected breach of licence conditions.
The committee said there will be conditions that signage is fitted at the venue – if it isn’t already – urging people to leave quietly and an incident book should be kept to log any complaints made to the venue. This should be available to licensing officers on request.
Finally, the committee recommended representatives of the venue attend a meeting with residents quarterly to – as Cllr Clare said – “keep the verbals going”.
After the meeting, residents who attended said they would be monitoring the venue to make sure it complied with licence.
They vowed to complain through the proper channels if necessary.