Call made for licence u-turn

Keith Dawkins
Keith Dawkins

ANGRY members of a political party have called on the council to revoke a controversial licence extending the hours in which alcohol can be served in the cafe of a cemetery.

Proposals allowing alcohol to be served until 9pm at Inspirations Coffee House were passed at a meeting of the licensing sub-committee, despite the fact one of the three members, Councillor Keith Dawkins, stormed out of the meeting after refusing to vote.

Coun Dawkins, leader of Putting Hartlepool First, said the cemetery, where his parents and other relatives are buried, is “holy land”.

He says he has been contacted by residents across the town expressing their “disbelief, anger and disgust” over the decision to give the proposals the green light. He has now requested an extraordinary meeting of the full council in which Putting Hartlepool First will propose a motion for the local authority to voluntarily give up the alcohol licence at the cafe.

Coun Dawkins says, should the authority not grant the meeting, five councillors can request it to take place. The letter he sent to the council requesting the meeting has also been sent to all of the town’s councillors asking for their support in reversing the “wholly misguided and immoral decision”.

Coun Dawkins said: “Personally, I am upset and angered at this decision as the cemetery is the final resting place of my parents and other relatives but I am far from being alone in these thoughts. Stranton Cemetery should be a place of peace and serenity where loved ones can visit those whom they have lose and whose memory they cherish.”

He added: “I suggest to you that it is quite possibly the view of a majority of the people of Hartlepool and very probably the majority view of those who have relatives buried with Stranton Cemetery that cemeteries should not be made places of entertainment. The current licence does just that and in doing so it runs against all common standards of decency and respect.

“Thankfully, it is the case that any licensed premises can voluntarily give up its licence and in this case we are responsible for the premises in question. I am therefore requesting an extraordinary meeting of full council at which PHF will propose a motion for the council to voluntarily give up the alcohol licence at Inspirations Cafe and return Stranton Cemetery to being a place of rest.”

The cafe within the cemetery previously had a license to sell alcohol until 6.30pm seven days a week until the proposals were passed. Council officials previously said the licence would be used for events such as gardening talks and wine-tasting events, particularly during busy summer months.