Newcastle 'could face legal challenge' over JDW hours refusal

By Ellie Bothwell contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Late-night levy, Late night levy, Nottingham, Jdw

Leading licensing barrister Philip Kolvin: 'It is simply baseless to suggest that [the variation] might undermine the licensing objectives'
Leading licensing barrister Philip Kolvin: 'It is simply baseless to suggest that [the variation] might undermine the licensing objectives'
The decision by Newcastle City Council to refuse JD Wetherspoon’s application to reduce its hours to dodge the city’s late night levy is likely to be overturned if there is a legal challenge, industry lawyers have claimed.

The managed pub operator had sought permission to remove authorisation to sell alcohol during the levy period at three of its pubs, as long as the levy was in place, but the move was rejected by the authority’s licensing sub-committee last week.

It had sparked opposition from the council and police who both claimed that the variation and subsequent reinstatement of hours post levy could undermine the licensing objectives. The committee added that it had to be consistent with the advice given to other operators against such applications.

JDW refused to comment on whether it will challenge the decision but Poppleston Allen solicitor Andy Grimsey said “there is certainly scope for [JDW] to win an appeal”.

He said: “One of the main reasons for [the council’s] decision was to be consistent. But, of course, the counter to that is you can be consistently wrong. The fact that you might have given wrong advice in the past doesn’t mean you should carry on giving wrong advice or making wrong decisions in the present.”

No legal precedent

He added that while local authority decisions do not establish any binding legal precedent they “can be quite persuasive” when it comes to similar cases heard by other councils.

Leading licensing barrister Philip Kolvin QC provided written advice to JDW, which was presented at the hearing, following the objections.

He said a refusal to grant the application “would be unlawful” and he has “no doubt that the High Court would hold it to be so”.

'Baseless'

He said: “It is simply baseless to suggest that [the variation] might undermine the licensing objectives, and unsurprisingly no basis for the suggestion is given.”

Earlier this month, Nottingham City Council’s licensing committee agreed to vary the licence of Wetherspoon’s pub 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.

Draft House founder Charlie McVeigh said the company’s City of London outlet was granted a reduction in its hours to avoid paying the levy. However, he said he had not asked for the original hours to be reinstated if the levy is withdrawn.

Pubs in Islington, Nottingham and Chelmsford began paying a late-night levy on Saturday.

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16 comments

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Priorities?

Posted by david,

Graham, from my limited experience in the banking industry (mine was in Systems rather than main-stream banking per se), I learnt that banks can be quite accommodating if they feel their borrowers are doing everything possible to discharge their obligations.

Similarly, trade creditors can be patient if they perceive all efforts are devoted to paying them even when the alarm bells sound when a business has to stop all advertising.

Frankly, I'm not sure you have your priorities right by spending your time playing games on these forums.

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Keep eyes open

Posted by The way Forward,

On a need to know understanding.81% it was on all main news channels this very morning. Posibly before you had your early round of putting.

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Only disappointment awaits

Posted by david,

Unsurprisingly I can't see any news story along those lines Graham, but if there's any substance to it I would imagine it's nothing more than the 81% desperately hoping local government can't be as corrupt as Westminster.

I fear they'll be terribly disappointed.
The shenanigans at Westminster are in the news everyday. There's not the same media scrutiny and hence public awareness of what goes on in places like Coalville - yet.

It's curious you're not keen to state whether you will seek re-election.

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