Bar opening hours extension blocked after councillor claims ‘criminal element has not gone yet’

Kingswood ward Labour Councillor Andrea Reid said she received complaints about Rumors Lounge Bar and Pub every Monday morning

A Kingswood bar has lost its bid to open until 3.30am amid concerns about noise and crime.

Rumors Lounge Bar and Pub in Regent Street asked to extend its hours to sell alcohol by 90 minutes and to play live and recorded music by two hours on Fridays and Saturdays, among other changes.

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But South Gloucestershire councillors refused after hearing nine complaints had been received from residents about public nuisance in the last year and licensee Wayne Houghton had received a final warning last summer for breaches of covid restrictions.

The warning letter from the police’s neighbourhood inspector and the local authority’s licensing team leader said CCTV from July 9, 2021, showed that “door supervisors watched an assault taking place outside and then admitted the perpetrator”.

Licensing sub-committee members were told the landlord had made several changes since, including the company supplying the bouncers, which had resulted in no further breaches.

Rumors Lounge Bar and Pub in Regent Street asked to extend its hours to sell alcohol - but the bid has been refused

They heard the police had been called recently to fights at or outside Rumors but did not object to the premises licence variation application, submitted by Melrose Associates on behalf of Mr Houghton.

Two complaints since October that the venue was operating later than allowed were not valid because these were during a series of 10 temporary event notices, the meeting at Kingswood civic centre on Thursday, April 21, was told.

Solicitor Jeremy Woodcraft, representing the licensee, said an acoustics report was being produced and that all works recommended would be carried out before the later hours came into effect.

He said this included replacing a “tired, worn” rear fire door, believed to be the main cause of noise escaping the premises, with a new soundproof door.

Environmental health made a representation because of long-running noise concerns.

But an officer told the hearing that they were satisfied with a condition that meant the bar and music could only be extended until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays, with the venue closing 30 minutes later, after these improvements had been made and noise limits agreed.

However, Kingswood ward Labour Cllr Andrea Reid, who attended the hearing in support of the one resident who lodged an objection, told the panel she received complaints about Rumors from neighbours every Monday morning.

She said: “It feels like this decision is being forced on you prematurely. I’m just recommending caution at this stage, having the safeguards in place and then reassessing accordingly.

“It’s not that I don’t want Rumors to succeed, of course I do, we need every business we can get on Kingswood High Street. But the measures we need to put in place and evaluate and see if they’re working aren’t going to be there and there is no fixed date to do it.”

She said photos a resident had sent her earlier this month of blood on the pavement in front of the club showed “the criminal element has not gone yet”.

The resident who objected told members she was “extremely sceptical” that the noise mitigation works would be carried out if the licence variation was granted before they were done.

She said: “There have been ongoing discussions with Rumors about the work needed which was identified some time ago. It is only being addressed now in order to get the licence granted.

“I’m not a killjoy, I’m not saying Rumors should close, but I do want to know action is effective so I can protect my human rights and live in my home.”

Mr Woodcraft said Mr Houghton had worked hard with the police to address crime and disorder issues after taking over the premises in December 2019.

He said: “That is identified by the police in the fact they are not objecting to this variation.

“Mr Houghton is as good as his word in terms of the licensing objectives. He is willing to do what is required.

“The acoustics survey will look at all aspects and take noise measurements and ensure it is a sustainable level of noise.

“We have a noise limiter already in place, so the environmental health officer has that control to come round and say what is an acceptable level from the noise survey.”

The application included extending opening hours on Sundays to Wednesdays from 11pm to 1am, with alcohol sales and late-night refreshment to end half an hour earlier.

Thursday’s closing time would remain at 1am, with music extended by 30 minutes from midnight to 12.30am.

Fridays and Saturdays would have seen live and recorded music to be played until 3am rather than the current 1am cut-off, and booze sales to 3am instead of 1.30am as now.

Mr Houghton can appeal to magistrates against the refusal.