Norwich City Council has worked hard to support businesses across the city, including licensed premises, throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
But as the Bedfords court decision shows, we will take action if premises are found to be failing to comply with legal requirements imposed to protect the public and customers of licensed premises.
The action against Bedfords was supported by Norfolk Constabulary to prevent any crime during the pandemic, where public health and safety was paramount.
We requested the review of the licence because of a failure to comply with health protection regulations, based on social media and CCTV footage which showed repeated breaches of restrictions. The licence holder admitted to being present and not taking action to prevent these breaches, which gave us cause for concern the licence holder was not able to control his premises.
Norwich Magistrates Court found that the initial Norwich City Council licensing sub-committee decision to revoke the premises licence at Bedfords was correct at the time it was made. The appeal on Wednesday 16 June 2021 was a new hearing which allows the court to take into account the current situation. After a lengthy deliberation, the court decided action was still necessary and gave the 8-week suspension. The suspension takes immediate effect and means there is no permission for licensable activities under the premises licence until 11 August 2021. The Magistrates called the social media footage from Bedfords ‘appalling’ and said that it showed complete disregard in relation to mask wearing and social distancing requirements. The court had concerns regarding the management of the premises and also imposed a condition regarding CCTV.
The vast majority of licensed premises in the city have worked extremely hard to operate safely and within the ever-changing Covid-19 restrictions. We completely understand the impact these restrictions have had on everyone, but there remains a requirement to comply with them to protect Norwich and keep everyone as safe as possible.
A Norwich City Council spokesperson said:
“We are pleased this matter has now concluded and thank the Justices for their comments and decision.
“Taking any enforcement action is never something we go into lightly, but failure to comply with the appropriate regulations will have consequences.
We stand by the actions we took but accept that Mr Carr and Bedfords may continue to operate following the suspension.
“We will continue to work closely with local businesses and establishments to support them in these difficult and challenging times.”