Concerns expressed over Cardiff being ‘hindered’ to opening independent bar

Concerns have been expressed that the “blocking” policy in Cardiff city center could lead to the closure of independent bars.

The city centre, which has over 300 premises with licenses to sell alcohol, is covered by Cardiff Council’s ‘Cumulative Effects Policy’. In this area, any application for a liquor license will be denied unless the business can show that it will not lead to crime and disorder.

When Mad Dog Brewery recently applied to open a taproom on Castle Street, a representative for South Wales Police said they were objecting because the business was in an area of ​​influence, adding: “Police bar or nightclub strongly objected to every application for or pubg [in the zone], ,

Read further:Cardiff Pub announces it will be closed 3 days a week due to COVID regulations

Although some councilors also objected to the application, it was approved by the Licensing Committee with an agreement on conditions such as additional security on the days of major events in the city.

But licensing attorney Matthew Phipps told WellsOnline that the way he objected to every application could harm Cardiff’s diversity.

“My concern is that it will turn off young entrepreneurs and that is not necessarily a good thing for the city,” said Mr Phipps of law firm TLT. “The variety of different types of campuses is arguably what makes Cardiff great.

“The policy basically covers the entire city centre, it is not just one or two streets where they say that is a concern. If the responsible authorities feel that the policy forces them to object to every application If they feel duty bound to object to each application, then they are not really considering each application on its individual merits.”

Baccaratto on Church Street

The Venetian-style cafe bar Baccaratto recently opened on Church Street after obtaining a liquor license despite objections from the police and the council’s licensing department. Mr Phipps said the committee’s approval of Baccaratto and Mad Dog’s applications shows there is still a path to new licences, but he argued that the authorities’ tendency to object could still be “blocking”.

He said legal representation can improve applicants’ chances of obtaining licenses but that such costs may deter people from applying in the first place.

“The higher the cost, the more likely people are to be laid off,” he said. “Sometimes businesses will want to produce material to explain who they are. Some will arrange covert visits if they have premises in other cities, usually from retired police licensing officers, so a report can be submitted. How they do business There is a time element as well and an uncertainty element.

“Keep in mind, hospitality has faced an absolute storm of problems over the past 18 months, so this applies to regional and national operators as well as small entrepreneurs. When it comes to welcoming, it feels inconsistent to enforce hard and fast rules.”

Landlord John Bassett
Homeowner John Bassett at The Four Elms in Cardiff

John Bassett, who owns several pubs, including Westgate Street’s Queen’s Vault, thinks licensing policy is important, which doesn’t make it harder for independent pubs to open in the city centre.

“You know some places where they won’t give drink licenses, but 20 yards from the road they all have drink licenses, and you think that’s a little unfair,” he said.

“In terms of alcohol-related crime, I thought Cardiff, and especially the city center, had recently become quite hassle-free. I am not aware of any issues.

“Normally there aren’t a lot of independents, it leads to big chains in Cardiff. I think the high street fares are higher at the moment and it’s harder for people to gamble at the moment. It would be nice to have a more diverse selection of pubs.” “

Nick Newman is the manager of The Philharmonic and Blue Bell
Nick Newman is the manager of The Philharmonic and Blue Bell

Nick Newman, who works for Croso Pubs, owner of Brewhouse, Philharmonic, Retro and Blue Bell, says the cumulative effects policy poses no threat to the diversity of Cardiff city centre.

He added: “There are costs and challenges involved in applying for a premises license, and in my experience many independent operators make a calculated decision on these before deciding to apply. It should also be said that national operators make significant investments. Our city center and they also contribute to the wide variety of licensed campuses Cardiff has to offer.

“I work in hospitality and have done so for 40 years. That’s why I’m a ‘glass half full’ person by definition. When I consider some of our great, prestigious businesses in Cardiff – Philharmonic, Live Lounge, Pulse, Moka and many others – I am confident that the future of independent bars in Cardiff is bright and secure.

“I don’t think the policy prohibits independent businesses from applying for a premises license and I would say that the Mad Dog Brewery Application tolerates this.”

Adrian Field, who heads for Cardiff
Adrian Field

Adrian Fields, who leads the For Cardiff Business Improvement District, said it is important that the city does not become “a clone city with brands similar to every other city or town across the UK”.

Speaking of the impact policy, he said: “If the assumption is denial and it is the default position, I think you could argue that it is hard for an independent person to ensure that the objectives of the licensing authority are met.” be done, because there are legal costs. You have to take each one on its merits. What is it replacing, what is it offering, is it independent? Required to get a mix.”

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Mr Field believes there is a reason for optimism over what the city night time has to offer. “Licensed campuses are getting a lot more imaginative now,” he said. “You have Gareth Bale’s golf-themed bar in St. Mary Street, a dart-led offer at the Flight Club, and Boom Battle Bar in the Brewery Quarter. People want more than just an opportunity for vertical drinking.”

A council spokesman said the cumulative effect policy would be reviewed in 2022 and a consultation would take place, with the licensing committee and any representations to be considered by the council.

“Cardiff Council’s current Cumulative Impact Assessment Document was approved by the Council in 2020 after a review and consultation process in 2019,” he said.

“The current Cumulative Impact Assessment was implemented following the following: report good Including evidence and statistics showing that the number of licensed campuses within the city center has a negative cumulative effect.

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“Notwithstanding the policy, each case is determined on its merits and it is not given that the Licensing Authority acting as a responsible authority shall be objected to merely because an application is covered by the policy.” Is.”

Licensing Officer Sergeant Justin Hardwick said: “South Wales Police is committed to working closely with the local authority and other partner agencies to ensure that the City Center remains a safe and pleasant environment for members of the public.

“The Cumulative Effects Policy, which is part of Cardiff Council’s Licensing Policy, ensures that control measures are in place to control the amount of premises licensed within the city centre. Policies of a similar nature are in place in other UK cities. are in use and there is a presumption that all applications within the CIP area will be rejected.

“It is for the applicant to demonstrate that they will not have an adverse, cumulative effect on the territory in relation to licensing purposes, such as the prevention of crime and disorder.”

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