A Brighton seafront venue can sell alcoholic drinks over a weekend early next month after its licence lapsed.
But the venue’s hopes of being allowed to sell drink this weekend and next weekend were thwarted by Brighton and Hove City Council.
Brighton Zip – operator of the seafront zipwire – submitted a “temporary event notice” (TEN) to the council and yesterday (Thursday 16 September) it was considered by a council licensing panel.
But the three-member panel heard an objection from Sussex Police, with the force reporting that the conditions attached to the lapsed licence had been breached.
Sussex Police licensing officer Hannah Staplehurst said that drinkers were meant to seated and eating a meal – and menus and signs should have stated this.
But officers had found that the signs were missing during a licensing check at the premises in Madeira Drive on Thursday 12 August.
And on Wednesday 25 August off-duty officers saw drinkers queuing at the bar and drinking at tables without any apparent signs that they had ordered food.
Officers carried out a formal licence check the next day and challenged the manager about the rule breaking, the licensing panel was told.
One panel member, Labour councillor Clare Moonan, asked why new menus and signs saying that alcohol had to be served with a meal were not in place by Thursday 26 August.
Brighton Zip general manager Delso Da Silva, who is also the designated premises supervisor with day-to-day responsibility for alcohol sales, said that a member of staff charged with the task was off sick with covid-19 for three weeks and he had not followed it up.
The police and the management team became aware on Thursday 26 August that the restaurant’s licence had lapsed.
This happened after Happyvale, one of the companies that ran the restaurant part of the site, was dissolved and zipwire operator Madeira Leisure took over the whole operation.
Licensing consultant Ian Baird said that the company had not deliberately broken its licence conditions.
He said that changes to rules governing takeaways during the coronavirus pandemic had created some confusion.
The attraction’s licence was granted in 2019 and restricted alcohol sales to customers seated at tables who had ordered a meal, with no one standing while drinking.
Madeira Leisure said in the latest licence application that it would stick to these “restaurant conditions”.
Mr Baird said: “There has been some relatively ambiguous and confusing regulations and changes in what’s been allowed and not allowed in terms of off sales and additional licensing rules.
“The operator is happy to put their hands up and say they have fallen foul and made mistakes with that.
“These are not malicious breaches. These are not intentional breaches in terms of wanting to go against the regulations. It stems from misunderstanding and poor practice in that respect.”
During conversations with police licensing officers on Thursday 26 August, he said that the position with customers drinking takeaway alcohol on the zipwire’s terrace was not “clear cut”.
The council licensing panel decided that Brighton Zip can sell alcohol over the weekend of Saturday 2 October and Sunday 3 October as part of a Wear It Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness event. And the “restaurant conditions” apply.
The council turned down the application to sell drinks this weekend, when events include the London to Brighton Bike Ride, and next weekend for the Chestnut Tree House Go Gold event.
Mr Baird said: “They’ve given them the time to put in place better practice. Then they’ve got an opportunity on the third (weekend) to prove it.”
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