JD Wetherspoon wins hearing to reduce pub hours in levy protest

By Ellie Bothwell contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Late night levy, Public house, License, Nottingham

The Company Inn in Castle Wharf will stop serving alcohol at midnight while a late-night levy is in place
The Company Inn in Castle Wharf will stop serving alcohol at midnight while a late-night levy is in place
JD Wetherspoon (JDW) has won a licensing hearing to reduce one of its pub’s hours to avoid paying a late-night levy, despite the fact police had objected on the grounds of crime and disorder, public safety and nuisance.

Nottingham City Council’s licensing committee agreed to vary the licence of the Company Inn in Castle Wharf, to remove authorisation to sell alcohol after midnight for as long as a late-night levy is enforced.

The variation was granted on the condition that if a levy is withdrawn in the city, JDW would have to give 28 days’ notice to police before its original 2am licence can be restored.

Nottinghamshire Police had objected to the application “on the grounds of crime and disorder, public safety and the prevention of public nuisance”.

A spokesman for JDW said: “We are pleased with the outcome of the hearing.

“The council’s licensing committee agreed to a variation of our premises licence which means we can’t sell alcohol after midnight whilst the late night levy is in place.

“However, we are allowed to restore current hours when the levy falls away.”

In July, the c950-strong pubco pledged to vary the licences of its pubs hit by a levy in this way as part of a company policy in protest at the legislation.

A levy will begin in Nottingham on 1 November, for premises licensed to sell alcohol between 00:01 and 6am.

Related topics: Licensing law, Health & safety

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Ground-breaking stuff

Posted by david,

That makes sense Kevin i.e. the police objection was more to do with the reduction in hours being conditional on the continuance of the LNL, or put another way - that the application reserved the automatic right to revert to the original hours if the LNL is abandoned.

The JDW spokesman seems pretty confident they will be allowed to restore the current hours if the levy falls away, so it looks as though JDW's legal guys have won a significant victory. Local press reports are suggesting as many as 80 premises will now follow JDW's lead.

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Penny & the bun

Posted by Kevin O'Connor,

The police objection was that Wetherspoons wanted an automatic return to their previous hours if the LNL was abandoned. The police wanted a say, but they agreed a 28 day notice of any change.

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The trade has a need to know.

Posted by david,

That's right. Before the hearing the police refused to give details of the basis of their objection - which in itself was rather odd. But this second article is post hearing. Presumably, at the hearing the police would have had to state their reasons for objecting.

A PMA report on those reasons and why the licensing committee did not uphold the police's objections would have made an informative follow-up piece.

This is a very significant ruling and the relative arguments are important to operators who are, or likely to become, subject to LNLs.

I would have hoped the PMA recognise that, as an insight into the police's logic might help answer your original question which was: "It's October 1st, not April 1st. How on earth do you breach objectives by closing earlier?"

Clearly, the police felt the shortening of hours would compromise the licensing objectives. I for one would like to understand their rationale - even if you're happy to remain in the dark.

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