Late licence bid is turned down

Sheara's Fast Food takeaway
Sheara's Fast Food takeaway

TAKEAWAY bosses are considering appealing after councillors rejected their plans to open until 4.30am.

Sheara’s Fast Foods, in Church Street, applied to Hartlepool Borough Council to extend its late night refreshment licence from 2am to 4.30am. But the plans were thrown out because they go against council policy.

Sheara’s used to be based at 15 Church Street but recently moved across the road into the former Lighthouse club, at number 69-72 Church Street.

Bosses say they have spent a “significant” amount of money converting the former nightclub into a takeaway and 78-seat restaurant and had hoped to open the takeaway side beyond 2am.

The former premises had a 4.30am late night refreshment licence, but by law couldn’t transfer the licence across to the new site and had to apply for a variation of the licence on the new property.

Council policy states new or variation licence applications to allow the sale of alcohol or the supply of late night refreshment beyond 2am will normally be refused unless there is exceptional circumstances.

After an hour-long hearing the licensing act sub-committee refused the application on the grounds the exceptional need had not been met and because the takeaway didn’t have planning permission to open beyond 2am.

The owners, who are awaiting the outcome of a planning application, now have 21 days to appeal.

Mike Cuthbert, a director at Sheara’s, said: “We are disappointed and we will probably appeal and take it from there.”

He said the takeaway will continue to trade until 2am and bosses will focus on opening the “family friendly” restaurant, which they hope to start operating before Christmas.

Mr Cuthbert spoke at the committee meeting alongside fellow director Sheara Singh.

The committee met because the council’s planning department and Cleveland Police had objected, along with a nearby resident who claimed the proposals could add to the noise and disorder in the Church Street area.

The current licence allows Sheara’s to supply late-night refreshment until 2am, but they had hoped to extend that to 4.30am on Fridays and Saturdays and Sundays preceding bank holidays.

Mr Cuthbert said their previous premises had a 4.30am licence so there wouldn’t be a net increase in late licences and that they have always worked closely with the police.

PC Andrew Thorpe, of Cleveland Police, said: “From a police point of view we are aware that these places are a honey pot for revellers to gather at the end of the night.

“Their behaviour will be dictated by how much alcohol they have had.”

He added the concern was that by granting the extension, it would mean revellers staying in the area after the bars and nightclubs had shut.

PC Thorpe, who said police support the council policy, added staff at Sheara’s had always been helpful in their dealings with the police.

Even if the licensing committee had approved the application, Sheara’s would still have needed planning permission.