Labour Councillor, Ian Stutely, is the Chair of Norwich City Council’s Licensing Committee which earlier this week (17th Feb 21) delivered a determination to revoke the license at Bedfords Bar’s.
The following is Cllr Stutely’s post-hearing statement in full:
“This licensing sub-committee is required to uphold the four licensing objectives in the public interest. In reaching this determination, the committee considered all the evidence and the submissions provided by the public health department at Norwich City Council, the Police, and various responses offered by the licensee and their representative.
The committee must take account of all the options available under the guidance, and ensure that our determination is both proportionate and ensures the licensing objectives are met – specifically in this case, the promotion of public safety and prevention of crime and disorder.
We must be certain that no other outcome would more adequately secure those objectives.
The event at Bedfords Bar on 4th November 2020, as depicted in video content that has been shared on social media and by local news outlets, was a serious and dangerous public safety incident.
We cannot be sure that there were symptomatic or asymptomatic people infected with Covid 19 at this venue on that night, or, if there were, whether subsequent infections led to serious illness or deaths amongst the wider population in our city. But it is known that such behaviour can and does lead to those outcomes and that many people have died in the UK and locally since this time. It is why restrictions were in place – and why they were set to be extended the following day. The committee viewed additional footage from inside the venue and heard further evidence that demonstrated similar behaviour, considered dangerous to public safety, was apparently routine amongst staff and certain customers at this venue.
It is deeply worrying that the public health concerns have not been adequately acknowledged by the licensee/DPS or management. It is of even more concern that no attempt was made to bring a serious public safety situation under control and that staff and management were seen to be wilfully participating.
The committee was not assured that the Licensee had taken the legislation seriously and we cannot be sure that it would not reoccur.
As Chair of the committee, I would like to highlight a related area of concern. Throughout this process, which has inevitably been the subject of wider public interest, a narrative has been created that the members of the public who reported this event are to blame for the hearing taking place. Names of individuals have been shared and they have been targeted with abuse and so far unsubstantiated counter accusations.
This is wrong and it must stop now.
This committee is grateful to members of the public for providing information that helps us to maintain the four licensing objectives. They must be free to do so without fear of retribution.
This hearing was convened and the determination reached because a serious breach took place. For years, social events have been routinely recorded and published, so it was inevitable that it would be reported by concerned members of the public. To date I am not aware of any other such incident within this authority’s area.
However, be assured that relevant authorities will investigate any information about wider breaches of Covid regulations and this committee will consider a hearing in relation to ALL incidents that relate to licensed premises and evidenced breaches of the licensing objectives.
I would like to thank everyone for attending, all officers for their hard work supporting the committee and [ NP Law ] for their excellent legal advice.”
Local press coverage: LINK