Note 1: The meeting was adjourned at the start of this item, from 11.12 am to 11.22am, to await the arrival of the applicant who had previously advised of her late arrival.
Note 2: A request by Surrey Police to introduce further written material was refused by the Sub Committee. It was noted that the applicant’s representative also objected to the introduction of any further written submissions.
In attendance and speaking at the hearing:
Applicant: Ms M Williams
Applicant’s representative Mr J Blandford
Surrey Police: Mr I Sandwell, Licensing Officer
Sergeant P. Goodale
Reigate & Banstead BC Mr J Martin, Investigation Officer
The Committee was requested to determine an application for the transfer of the premises licence at the above premises.
The application was before the Sub Committee because a formal objection had been lodged by Surrey Police under section 42(6) of the Licensing Act 2003.
The report before the Sub Committee set out details of the application and the formal objection to the transfer made by Surrey Police.
The Licensing & Regulatory Manager introduced the report and informed the Sub Committee of the circumstances leading to this application.
A previous application for a transfer of the premises licence to Mr Daniel Foley had been rejected by the Licensing and Regulatory Sub Committee which sat to hear the matter on 16 June 2016. The decision from this hearing was annexed to the agenda as relevant background information.
Subsequent to the refusal to transfer the licence, the existing licence holder, Marstons Brewery, had surrendered the licence and no longer had any responsibility or involvement in the premises.
Under licensing legislation, one request for a transfer of the licence was permitted and the business was able to remain open until this was determined.
A subsequent application for the transfer of the licence had been made and this was before the sub committee for determination today.
If this application was rejected, the premises would have to close because there would no longer be an authorised licence holder.
The grounds for the police objection to the current application were as set out in annex 5.
The Chairman invited Mr Sandwell to make his submissions on behalf of Surrey Police, during the course of which the following points were noted:
• The application was being made under section 42(6) because the Police believed there were exceptional circumstances to justify its concern that granting the application would undermine the crime prevention objectives.
• The applicant was the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation which would be going before the Crown Court in January 2017.
• The current Designated Premises Supervisor was Mr Daniel Foley, whose application for a transfer of the licence had been rejected by the Licensing and Regulatory Sub Committee on 13 June 2016. The role of the previous applicant in the ongoing operation of the premises was of concern.
At this point, the legal adviser intervened to remind Surrey Police that although it was reasonable of the Police to refer to the previous application in its submissions, as these were referred to in the papers, it should be borne in mind that Mr Foley was not the applicant at this hearing.
• Subsequent to Ms Williams’s application Surrey Police undertook a record check and determined that Ms Williams was the subject of an ongoing investigation by Reigate and Banstead Borough Council together with the Department for Work and Pensions and that a court case was pending.
• At this point, Mr Sandwell called upon Mr Martin to set out the details of the investigation leading to the impending court case.
Note: Details of the investigation are as set out in the papers and annexes and not minuted in order to not prejudice the forthcoming court case.
• In view of the aforegoing, Ms Williams was invited to an interview with Surrey Police, held on 18 July 2016, the purpose of which was to discuss and clarify her previous experience in the licensing trade, and her suitability to be a registered premises licence holder.
• At the interview,
o Ms Williams appeared unaware that, subsequent to her application, she now held the licence and was fully responsible for the premises.
o Ms Williams had not notified her change of address.
o Ms Williams advised the Police that she had last been at the premises the previous Friday when she had stood in as the DPS for Mr Foley, for no payment.
o Ms Williams gave the indication of having limited knowledge of the terms of the licence and its conditions. She was unfamiliar with the names of the door staff.
o Ms Williams stated that Mr Foley was running the premises and that they were currently going through a handover.
o Mr Foley has a business interest in the premises as he owned the tenancy lease.
o Ms Williams advised that Mr Foley would continue as the DPS for the time being but that she may move into the premises.
o When asked about her previous experience in running a licensed premises and how she would deal with any issues, Ms Williams referred to a recent incident where a customer had been falling over and she had had to speak to the bar staff about not serving people who were intoxicated.
o Ms Williams referred to holding a regular Monday meeting with ‘Danny’ (Mr Foley) to discuss concerns and repeated her intention to move into the premises in due course
The Chairman then invited Mr Blandford to make his submissions on behalf of the applicant, during the course of which the following points were noted:
• Surrey Police appeared to be taking a scattergun approach in making their submissions. The formal objection was based on crime prevention concerns relating to an ongoing investigation into the applicant, and yet their submissions today covered other matters entirely.
• The applicant remained innocent of any crime unless and until proven guilty. Furthermore, evidence in such cases was often poor and the case could be dropped when it went to court.
• In this case the Police were setting themselves up as both judge and jury.
At this point, the legal adviser intervened to advise the Sub Committee that the licensing regime was based on civil, rather than criminal law, and that hearsay evidence was admissible.
• Surrey Police appeared to be assuming that Ms Williams was guilty of a criminal offence which has not yet been to court, and this was the only basis of their formal objection.
• The real issue for the Police appeared to be Mr Foley and their perception of his ongoing involvement in the running of the premises, however, this application was being made by Ms Williams and should be treated as such.
• Edited excerpts of the Police interview were given within their written statement, but it did not give the full picture. The interview actually lasted 90 minutes and Ms Williams was anxious to make it clear that she had previous experience in the licensing trade.
The legal advisor intervened to advise that references to Mr Foley are relevant as he remains the Designated Premises Supervisor and the Notice of Determination from the hearing on 13 June 2016 forms part of the agenda papers for today’s hearing.
The Chairman thanked all speakers for their submissions and opened the floor for questions, during the course of which the following points were noted:
In response to a series of questions to Ms Williams, asking about her previous experience in the licensing trade; what changes she would make if the application was granted; what training she has had or would introduce; what her relationship was with Mr Foley; whether she would live on the premises; and how she would manage the DPS (Mr Foley) if appointed as licence holder:
Ms Williams responded that she did not currently live on the premises but that she may move there in the future.
Regarding her previous experience in the trade, she had worked as a barmaid at the premises when it used to be the Dog and Duck for a couple of months but had to give it up when she broke her hand.
She had then helped out at another premises learning some of the management skills and the basics. She had also helped out at the Abbot pub in 2008, which used the same systems as the Dog and Duck.
Ms Williams had applied for and been granted her personal licence in 2008 but her son then became ill and she had to stop applying for jobs to care for him. She had, however, helped out friends who were in the trade and had also taken a course at Boreham Wood.
Ms Williams confirmed that she had known Mr Foley for a year. She had been drinking in the premises and had become friends with him when she gave him advice about a patron who was a problem.
Ms Williams subsequently approached Mr Foley to ask him about opportunities for her to get back into work. She was keen to go into senior management and he had said that he would like to get her involved with the premises because of her local knowledge of Redhill.
At the time of the interview with the Police she had been undecided about what role she would take in the premises.
Since becoming involved and making the present application she had introduced regular Monday meetings with Mr Foley to discuss business. Staff training included running mock sessions to identify how bar staff should behave if someone was drunk or causing problems.
The premises operated the Challenge 25 identification process, she had introduced more regular toilet checks and was also keen to employ female door staff and male bar staff.
Ms Williams had been the PubWatch chairman voluntarily, for two years previously, supporting other publicans in the area.
The Incident Book was maintained up to date at the end of each evening, rather than leaving it to the next morning, she regularly exchanged ideas with Mr Foley and they were working together on introducing more changes.
Ms Williams was keen to take some of the burden off Mr Foley. During her interview with Surrey Police she gained the impression that the Police had an issue with Mr Foley.
Ms Williams was in regular contact with Mr Foley. They kept each other informed of what was happening and provided mutual support.
In response to a question about how she would deal with childcare if granted the licence:
Ms Williams explained that her son was now 18 and at college, so that this was no longer an issue.
In response to a question about the police’s attitude and behaviour towards Mr Foley:
On behalf of Surrey Police, PS Goodale responded that the decision to pursue the objection had been made by a senior officer, the Area Inspector, and that she herself did not have the powers to take such a decision. There was no personal vendetta against Mr Foley by the police.
In response to a series of questions, put by Mr Sandwell to Ms Williams, asking
• whether the running of the premises had improved since the previous application by Mr Foley and if so, to what extent it could be attributed to her involvement;
• how many incidents Ms Williams was aware of, or had been involved in, since she took over in June;
• what did she know about a female taken ill in the toilets for whom an ambulance was called, and who had allegedly drunk 20 sambuccas;
• how had the handover gone with the current DPS and what guidance had she given him;
• what professional training had she had since taking over;
• what business interest, if any, did she have in the premises;
• how did Mr Foley’s vested interest in the premises affect her ability to be an effective licence holder, and his role as the DPS if she did wish to remove him.
Ms Williams responded that she believed that there had been recent improvements. The Police were kept involved, more people had been caught with drugs and things were moving forward.
This was in part due to her involvement and she also met regularly with Mr Foley.
In respect of recent incidents, she was aware of the one mentioned in the papers but could not comment as the Police had chosen not to speak to her about it.
Mr Foley had told her about two incidents the previous weekend but she had been away at the time. Anecdotally Mr Foley had told her that the Police had taken 45 minutes to respond, however Mr Sandwell clarified that it had, in fact, been 20 minutes.
Ms Williams stated that the current police licensing officer had not maintained contact with her since she took over, although the previous licensing officer had made regular visits to maintain contact. She had also not been advised that there were plans to reintroduce Pubwatch.
Ms Williams refuted the suggestion that any patron would be served 20 Sambuccas, in view of the training given, and it was noted that there was no evidence to support this statement.
In respect of the handover and guidance to the DPS, Ms Williams was involved in training, there were regular management meetings with Mr Foley, and she was keen to employ more male bar staff. There was increased signage now, the toilets were checked more regularly and the door staff were being made to fill in all the incident papers on the night rather than leaving it to the next morning.
Ms Williams advised that she was working alongside Mr Foley, that they were in regular contact and kept each other informed on what was happening.
In respect of professional training, she was looking into available courses to see what would be of use.
Regarding her relationship with Mr Foley, Ms Williams stated that she was keen to get back into work and had been given an opportunity to do so. She was aware that Mr Foley had invested in the business and at the moment there was a bar manager role available which she may take as well. She was keen to be hands on and did not want to be the licence holder in name only.
Ms Williams confirmed that she had the support of the Job Centre and was meeting with them on 23 September to receive advice on returning to paid employment. At present, she was not being paid.
Both parties were then invited to make their closing statements and the following points were noted:
On behalf of Surrey Police:
Mr Sandwell advised that the full record of the police’s interview with Ms Williams could be made available if required.
The decision to make an objection to the application was a valid one, made by a senior officer and based upon information in the police’s possession about a forthcoming prosecution against Ms Williams.
Surrey Police had objected to the application based on the crime prevention objective, because of the pending criminal proceedings against Ms Williams, but they also had very real concerns about Mr Foley’s ongoing involvement in the management of the premises. Mr Foley clearly had a vested business interest in the premises and the ability of Ms Williams to remove him as the DPS or to have any real control over his day-to-day involvement in the running of the premises was difficult to envisage.
On behalf of the applicant:
Mr Blandford commented that many of the Police assertions were conditional and based upon subjective rather than objective facts or evidence.
The DPS could be removed by the licence holder and there was nothing to prevent the licence holder also being the DPS.
The real issue here for the Police was Mr Foley, however, this was Ms Williams’s application and it was for the Sub Committee to form its own conclusions which should be based upon the facts rather than giving too much emphasis to ‘ifs and maybes’ or unfounded accusations.
The Chairman thanked everyone for their submissions and advised that the Sub Committee would now adjourn to deliberate.
(The Sub-Committee adjourned to deliberate at 12.27 pm and resumed at 1.07 pm.)
RESOLVED that the application for transfer of the premises licence be REJECTED.
In reaching its decision:
a. The Licensing & Regulatory Sub Committee reviewed all the papers and evidence presented to it, including the report and its annexes.
b. The Sub Committee also paid careful attention to all oral submissions made by the parties during the hearing and to the responses to its questions.
c. It noted that Surrey Police was making its objection under section 42(6) of the Licensing Act 2003, because it considered that the application would undermine the crime prevention objective, and that this was the relevant issue to be considered in its determinations.
d. The Sub Committee gave due regard to the individual merits of this application, s149 Equality Act 2010, Human Rights legislation and in particular Article 8 and Article 1 First Protocol of the European Convention on Human Rights, and the rules of natural justice.
e. The Sub Committee does not believe that the applicant has demonstrated sufficient evidence of her experience to run the premises, as the only experience she has referenced relates to casual and primarily unpaid involvement in other premises.
f. The Sub Committee is concerned about the applicant’s ability to effectively manage the designated premises supervisor, who has a clear financial interest in the premises.
g. The applicant has answered the questions put to her, but the Sub Committee has not been fully satisfied with the detail of her responses.
h. The Sub Committee has not seen any evidence of improvements in the management of the premises, or the training of staff, since this application was made.
i. The pending criminal case has been a consideration for the Sub Committee but it has not been the overriding factor in reaching its decision.
j. The local reputation at this premises is one of violent disorder which has involved the Police on numerous occasions. The Designated Premises Supervisor has been involved in several of these incidents. The Sub Committee’s concern is heightened by the fact that this is a town centre premises and, as such, requires an experienced premises licence holder.