A popular hotel has been granted a 12 month licence after negotiations led to previous concerns being dropped by objectors.
The Staincliffe Hotel in Seaton Carew had to apply for a new premises licence after it was discovered the previous licence holder had gone bankrupt, and the permission had become invalid.
Police, the fire service and other objectors, however, raised concerns over a number of issues to Hartlepool Borough Council.
But hotel chiefs and council officials held talks with objectors in advance of a meeting of the council’s licensing sub-committee on June 27, and councillors granted the business a 12-month premises licence after those opposed agreed to drop their objections following pledges by Staincliffe's owners.
Speaking after the meeting, Coun Dave Hunter, chair of the sub-committee meeting, said it is now up to those running hotel to meet all the requirements.
He said: “As all of those who had objected to the licence chose to withdraw their objections the council had no option other than to grant the licence under the new terms agreed by all parties.
“The new licence is limited to 12 months and therefore the onus is very much on the operators of the Staincliffe Hotel to ensure an application to make the licence permanent in 12 months time will not be opposed by anyone.
“It was very reassuring to see members of the public there who made such a valuable contribution to the overall decision.”
Concerns over trouble
Previous concerns raised over the hotel’s licence application included potential antisocial behaviour and public nuisance, a fire prohibition notice not being met, and claims the hotel had been carrying out activities without a licence, including illegal streaming of Premier League football.
Graeme Cook, barrister on behalf of Cliffe Hotels Ltd, admitted ‘mistakes had been made’ but they had been learnt from.
Why a new licence was needed
A new licence was required for the hotel because previous licence holder Paul Montgomery became bankrupt in August 2018. Laws state a licence lapses if it is not transferred within 28 days.
Council officers only became aware of the bankruptcy in April this year, with the premises licence transferred to Cliffe Hotels last October, and the company was then told it would need a new licence.
Concerns had previously been submitted by several local residents, Cleveland Police, Cleveland Fire Brigade, as well as the council trading standards and environmental health teams.
However talks were held between all parties on the morning of the meeting and amendments were made to the proposed licensing conditions, ensuring all groups supported the new licence.
Mr Cook said: “We are very grateful to everybody for the mediation. It has avoided what potentially was a contested hearing as far as licensing is concerned.
“On behalf of Miss Fletcher [director and shareholder], I accept mistakes have been made by the establishment, but they are learning from the mistakes and are putting those mistakes correct.
“We believe by the granting of a 12 month licence the next 12 months can allow Miss Fletcher to be able to show to you and to everybody else that she means to do well in business and provide a good trade for Seaton Carew and the area.”
The licencing hours
It was agreed the venue would be able to host live and recorded music, dance performances and supply alcohol from Sunday to Thursday, 11am until 10.30pm, before closing at 11pm.
For Friday and Saturday it will be able to supply alcohol until 11pm, live entertainment and music will finish by 11.30pm, before closing at midnight.
Mr Cook said as well as holding the licence, the company have funding in place to buy the premises by the end of August.
They have therefore agreed for safety recommendations from the fire service to be fully in place by the end of September.
Also, every two months from September, Amanda Fletcher will convene a meeting involving residents, the council, police and fire service, for progress reports.
During summer months, April to September, nobody will be allowed in the outside drinking area after 8pm, with it being brought forward to 5pm in winter.
Peter Devlin, solicitor for Cleveland Fire Authority, said they had produced a full action plan which was taken on board by Miss Fletcher and will ensure the premises are safe.
‘We do not want to see this business fail’
Police counsel James Kemp said the main objections from the police were based on concerns raised by Cleveland Fire Authority.
He said: “I think it’s fair to say we welcome the progress that has been made in respect of how the premises licensing is going to work and the additional conditions advanced and accepted.
“We do not want to see this business fail and, in effect, what is a rather large and beautiful building fall into disrepair and vacancy.”