A Bognor Regis bar owner has apologised for multiple licence breaches since opening before Christmas.
Daniel Slade opened TAO in the High Street in December, but has had several visits from Sussex Police and Arun District Council between January and April.
At a first inspection in January a total of 15 licence breaches were identified including missing paperwork, no noise management plan and no hot food available.
A second visit in February found all 15 breaches were still occurring. Further visits found 11 and then nine breaches.
Several noise complaints have also been received leading to the council issuing an abatement notice and then a community protection warning.
A review of TAO’s premises licence was discussed by the council’s licensing sub-committee today (Wednesday May 2).
The committee members retired for a discussion but no decision is expected to be made until next week.
Mr Slade apologised for the breaches and acknowledged he had brought the problems on himself.
He added: “I was desperate because of finances and believed at that point the business was safe to open.”
Jeremy Cook, counsel for Mr Slade, argued that TAO was now meeting the conditions of its premises licence.
He suggested Mr Slade had been ‘somewhat naive in taking on such a big project with all the legal ramifications’.
A number of other premises have opened which have forced him to rethink his business plan.
He added: “His naivety and self confidence has put him into conflict with the authorities.”
Officers described how Mr Slade had a ‘propensity for non-compliance’ and suggested the premises was being run as a bar potentially verging on a nightclub.
Mr Cook said: “Categorically he [Mr Slade] has never seen this premises as a nightclub.”
Mr Slade said: “I will put my hands up in my naivety on all of this. It’s a massive project I took on and I’m not looking for sympathy.”
He added: “Bognor has got a little bit tired and I think TAO is bringing with it a new excitement.”
He described how it was his intention to introduce a small plates tapas menu responding to criticism of not offering a full hot food menu.
Peter Saville, barrister for Sussex Police, said: “Mr Slade has had ample opportunity to get his house in order but this premises has been running as a bar rather than a restaurant or grill.”
He described how the licensing objectives are being ‘seriously undermined’.
One of the main focuses of the committee meeting was about noise disruption to nearby residents.
A video taken on Saturday April 21 by a council officer, appearing to show music blaring out of TAO, was played during the meeting.
Mr Slade described how they had put noise limiters on amplifiers and rubber baffles, while they were also looking at installing acoustic curtains.
He said: “I want the problem fixed and fixed sooner rather than later.”
Sussex Police’s submission argued it would be ‘proportionate’ to consider a suspension of TAO’s premises licence to allow the owner to address the breaches.
It is also recommending a change to conditions so alcohol cannot be sold after 11pm.
Mr Cook said a suspension would have a detrimental effect on the viability of TAO and ‘may lead to the business having to close’.
He said: “If you feel it’s come to the point where some fairly draconian action should be taken then we would ask you to limit any suspension to the shortest possible time.”
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