Hartlepool Council refuses party’s demands for meeting over cemetery cafe’s controversial booze licence

Keith Dawkins
Keith Dawkins

HARTLEPOOL Borough Council has refused a political party’s request to hold an extraordinary meeting to discuss a controversial alcohol licence at a cafe within a cemetery.

But Councillor Keith Dawkins, leader of Putting Hartlepool First, has insisted the matter is far from over.

Angry members of the party called on the council to revoke the licence extending the hours in which alcohol can be served until 9pm at Inspirations Coffee House, in Stranton Cemetery.

After storming out of a meeting of the licensing sub-committee and refusing to vote, Coun Dawkins said he was “upset and angered” at the decision after the proposals, which he labelled as “wholly misguiding and immoral”, were given the green light in his absence.

He then sent a letter to the council requesting an extraordinary meeting in which Putting Hartlepool First planned to propose a motion for the local authority to voluntarily give up the alcohol licence at the cafe.

But a Hartlepool Borough Council spokesman said: “We feel that it would be inappropriate to call an extraordinary meeting of Hartlepool Council to discuss this issue when the matter could be raised at a scheduled full council meeting on Thursday, May 8.”

Coun Dawkins said he was “disappointed” by the council’s response but said the issue will be raised at the meeting of the full council next month.

He said: “Obviously I’m disappointed by this but it certainly isn’t the end of the matter, it’s not finished at all.

“I’ve said right from the very start, this is something I feel very strongly about, the cemetery should be a place of peace, not a place of entertainment and I know lots of others who feel the same.”

Coun Dawkins previously said the cemetery, where his parents and other relatives are buried, is “holy land”.

And since walking out of the meeting he said he has had support from residents across the town expressing their “disbelief, anger and disgust” over the decision to pass the proposals.

The cafe within the cemetery previously had a licence to sell alcohol until 6.30pm seven days a week.

Council officials insist the licence would be used for events such as gardening talks and wine-tasting events, particularly during the busy summer months.