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Future of The Nags Head under discussion
THE future of the Nags Head is under discussion after a lengthy panel meeting regarding the licence following complaints from residents in the area about noise.
A Licensing Panel Hearing was held at the Wycombe District Council Chambers on Monday to discuss the future of the pub.
The complaints started in April after new tenants moved into the pub, following to a noise abatement notice being served on May 28.
The pub in London Road, which has a long history as a music venue and once had the likes of The Sex Pistols and The Who performing there, has been closed since August 3.
Control of Pollution Team at WDC, Jan Blackbee, said on a site visit to the pub in May the noise of the bass outside the pub was the worst she had heard in her 20-year-career.
Admiral Taverns, who own the pub, have since removed the Designated Premises Supervisor, Maria Paesano and her son, Marco Iorio, who were running the pub.
Resident Penny Hopper who lives opposite applied for a review of the licence on advice from the council, after problems with noise started when the tenants moved into the pub in April.
Ms Hopper said: "As it has been shown the problem did not arise until the new management came in. I never had a problem before. It was the type of music they were putting on."
She emphasised her problem was with the former tenant and the way they ran it rather than the pub itself, and she would like to see it continue as a music venue.
Police were called on April 28 to complaints of loud music with further complaints in May. And on May 18 a licensed premises inspection was carried out by a police licensing officer, Claire Turner, and WDC licensing officer, Brian Whittall.
At the hearing, Caroline Stevens, who was standing in for Mr Whittall who was ill, said the report from that evening said doors had been left open during the performance of live music and CCTV was not fully working.
She said the report also said it appeared that illegal drugs were being taken by people on the premises, under age drink sales seemed to be taking place and there appeared to be a lack of management.
Licensing panel member Cllr Alan Turner asked: “You mentioned on one specific occasion you felt drugs were being taken and referred to under age sales. How was that arrived at?”
Ms Stevens said the report was by Mr Whittall and Ms Turner and neither were at the panel hearing. She said: "From that point of view it is hearsay."
Ben Clarke, who has succeeded Claire Turner, said with regards to any action being taken it is a difficult case to prove and he said he is not sure where the allegation of drug taking has come from, so it was inappropriate for him to comment any further.
He said the reports of underage sales were unsubstantiated.
Ms Blackbee said they wrote to Ms Paesano and held a meeting.
She then attended the next event on May 26 at 10.10pm.
She said at the back of the pub there was loud bass coming from the building.
She said: "It was one of the worst cases I have witnessed in my career of 20 odd years."
Ms Blackbee said she met with Mr Iorio who arranged a meeting with the sound engineer but she said the equipment she was shown was not appropriate for recording the noise level.
She also set up sound recorders in neighbouring properties, which showed the level was too high.
She said with the previous landlord, there were two complaints in 2009 and then none again until he left in January 2012, where he received one complaint during his leaving party.
Walaiti Rathore, who was the solicitor representing the Nags Head, raised awareness to the online petition to Save The Nags Head which has around 500 signatures, he said.
He said: "The root of the alleged problems no longer exists. We have taken voluntary action to remove the alleged root of concern because nothing was actually proven against these people."
He said they have removed the former tenants from the property. He emphasised that although Admiral Taverns own the building the responsibility of running the premises lies with the tenants, but they must run it in accordance with their policy agreement.
He said he does not believe further conditions need to be applied as the root of the problem has been removed and they already have the abatement order hanging over them.
Business Development Manager Nicola Reeves said the pub was closed on August 3.
She said: "Subsequently two weeks later it (the electricity) was cut off due to it being bypassed by Mr Iorio."
She said they will be able to turn it back on, once the issues have been sorted out.
Ms Reeves later said: "I have been in the industry for 15 to 20 years as a manager. I have never come across anyone like Mr Iorio."
She said she even go to the point where she went around to his house to talk to him.
Suggestions of conditions put forward were no longer having any under 18 events and having a noise limitator installed which will be set at levels not to cause public nuisance. There was also the prospect of giving a direct line number to Admiral Taverns for residents in the area.
Chairman Bill Bendyshe-Brown, and panel members John Richards and Alan Turner will deliver a result within a week from the panel hearing on Monday.