Axed hearings ‘could have cost council £50K’ says bar boss

The boss of Blue Lounge thinks the council could have been out of pocket, had it pressed on with proceedings
The boss of Blue Lounge thinks the council could have been out of pocket, had it pressed on with proceedings

Scarborough Council could have faced a hefty £50,000 legal bill had a trio of “flimsy” licensing complaints been brought against bar bosses.

That’s the view of the manager of one of the town’s premier nightspots, after the authority was forced to axe the meetings because of a legal loophole - involving postage.

Quids Inn, The Waterhouse and Blue Lounge could have had tough sanctions slapped on their licenses by councillors after a rival barman, Barbican’s Jake Acton, complained they were too noisy.

But due to notices not being sent via recorded delivery, the hearing letters arrived at different venues at different times - forcing the council’s legal team to advise the authority to end proceedings.

And Blue Lounge boss Grant Dexter claims the decision to scrap proceedings possibly saved the authority a small fortune.

“If we had appealed whatever the findings were and took the council through the courts, I’d estimate it would have had to pay about £50,000 in legal costs between all three bars,” said Mr Dexter.

“We’ve already had to spend quite a lot of money so far without going to the hearing.”

Scarborough Council has denied the hearings were cancelled due to the last-minute revelation that Mr Acton worked only yards from all three nightspots.

A council legal chief instead claims it was cancelled over a “very complex legal matter”, which is causing headaches to council’s up and down the country.

A precedent was set in a 2012 case involving Camden Council and a burger bar called Tinseltown, when a district judge ruled in favour of the American-themed diner over a series of technicalities, such as minor omissions from the application form and notices being displayed late.

Although Camden Council argued there was no prejudice, the judge threw the case out, and Scarborough Council has now acted to possibly prevent an equally costly case.

And Lisa Dixon, the council’s director of democratic and legal services added: “As a result of these on-going cases, and after taking advice from our own legal team and a specialist barrister, it was felt that if the hearings went ahead, there would be the potential for any decisions made by the licensing sub-committee to be challenged.”

She added that should Mr Acton, or another party, make a new complaint, then a hearing will be listed in accordance with the regulations.

However, Mr Dexter doubts Mr Acton will bring another complaint against his bar in the near future, and that after talks with police, the bar is happy to implement suggested operational changes.