Controversial 'free bar' Innsatiable applies for premises licence

By Ellie Bothwell

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cumulative impact policy Surrey

Owner Simon Atkins is also looking to expand his unlicensed bar concept
Owner Simon Atkins is also looking to expand his unlicensed bar concept
Licensees have hit out at Innsatiable, the controversial Surrey “furniture shop” that gives away beer, after its owner said he was applying for a premises licence.

In an exclusive interview with the PMA​, Simon Atkins said he submitted an application for a licence last week (18 June), after magistrates issued a closure order for breaches of licensing laws.

However, he said he is also looking for investors to expand his unlicensed bar concept, which sells beer mats and furniture in exchange for “free alcohol”, to Winchester and Shoreditch, which have a cumulative impact policy to curb new licences.

Surrey Police applied for his current bar, in East Street, Farnham, to shut following complaints from other licensed premises and residents.

Atkins, who operated under a licence there between November 2012 and 2013 before choosing to relinquish it, said this time his decision was “permanent”. He stressed his beer mat business plan will remain but a licence will allow him to promote and enforce payment for alcohol.

He said: “We want to keep succeeding in Farnham. Whereas before I would say ‘if you want to buy a beer mat, it’s up to you’, now if anyone objects I can say ‘no problem, that’s £3 for the drink’.

“We will have some responsible but great deals on alcohol. If complaints came from the trade before when we didn’t have a licence, I don’t know how they will cope when we do, because of course we are really going to push it,” he added.


Licensee Martin Stacey, of the Cricketers in Farnham, said Innsatiable bar is discussed as a concern at “nearly every” monthly Farnham Pubwatch meeting and he will be objecting the licence application.

“I would think every publican in the area will object,” he said.

“It’s not that it’s a bit of competition, but that he’s blatantly flaunted and twisted the law. Only now the law comes down on him does he try to abide. It’s too late.”

Another publican, who wishes to remain anonymous, said Innsatiable hasn’t affected their trade but is still “another competition”.

“He’s probably taken all the people that we don’t want in our pub. But he’s getting bigger and bigger, so it’s another business that could potentially take a few of my customers.”

Local councillor Stephen Hill, who also runs the Shepherd and Flock pub near Farnham, said Atkins has already been given “a lot of leeway to comply with the regulations, but has failed to do so”.

Another councillor Roger Steel said he thinks it is “unlikely” a licence will be granted, and Innsatiable’s unlicensed business model has not been fair to responsible publicans in the area.

A Waverley Borough Council licensing spokeswoman confirmed the authority had received Atkins’ application and said if there are no objections it will be granted after 28 days. However, if it receives just one objection a hearing will take place within 21 days. Surrey Police has already said it is likely to oppose the application.

Related topics Licensing law

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