Licence threat now removed

The Office, Church Street. November 2010
The Office, Church Street. November 2010

POLICE are confident they won’t have any problems with the new owners of a popular bar which had been under threat of having its premises licence revoked.

The Office, in Church Street, Hartlepool, was facing an uncertain future after concerns were raised over the level of music blasting from the premises under the previous management.

Police Inspector Tony Green

Police Inspector Tony Green

But councillors sitting on Hartlepool Borough Council’s licensing act sub-committee agreed to take no further action after hearing the bar had been sold to John Gate, who runs Idols, also in Church Street.

In a statement Mr Gate, of Tatesgate Leisure, said: “We would like to take this opportunity to assure all concerned that by us taking over the premises it will be run in conjunction with all of the licensing objectives and we will continue to work alongside the police and Hartlepool Licensing Association.

“We hope to transform the bar into a friendly, welcoming establishment. We want to improve the image of Church Street and we believe that by investing in these new premises and running it to the same high standards as Idols, we can achieve that.”

Mr Tate added that the new owners plan to change the name to Odd Bar and invest between £30,000 and £50,000 on refurbishing the venue.

Inspector Tony Green, of Hartlepool Police, told councillors: “I have worked with Mr Gate for several years in his capacity at Idols and I have always found him to be conscientious and professional.”

Chairman of the licensing act sub-committee, Labour councillor Trevor Rogan, said in the circumstances the committee did not feel it was “necessary” to take any further action.

The application to revoke the premises’ licence was originally submitted by Cleveland Police in October last year, but the decision was adjourned to give the previous owners more time to stamp out the problems.

The council’s environmental health officers and the Hillcarter Hotel, which is directly opposite The Office, had also complained about the noise levels.

The closing time was brought forward from 4am to 2am, new equipment was installed to limit noise levels and previous owner Andrew Haygarth transferred the premises licence from Rachael Gilfoyle to his own trading firm, Haygarth Trading Company.

Mr Haygarth then sold The Office ahead of the latest council meeting to concentrate on his other bars, which include Vibes and Rosie O’Grady’s, at Navigation Point.

Speaking to the Mail he added that he hadn’t had any problems in the first 15 years he owned the venue, but there had been issues with different managers in recent years after he decided to rent it out.

The Office’s current licence authorises the sale of alcohol, live music, recorded music and dance, between the hours of 11am and 2am seven days a week.