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Bar's launch in High Wycombe delayed by one objector
THE opening of a wine bar - in arm’s reach of a live music venue - has been delayed after a sole objection over fears its music would be too loud.
Brendan Sealy, joint owner of the Ladies and Gentleman bar, fears he will be made bankrupt before his venture gets off the ground and has slammed Wycombe District Council planning and licensing policies.
But the council has said it has simply followed its legal obligations in responding to the objection.
Last Friday's opening of the wine bar and restaurant in Pauls Row, High Wycombe, was cancelled after a member of the public made an objection against the bar’s premises licence at the 11th hour.
The complaint says the music the bar would play would create a noise problem.
Mr Sealy said: "The system is ludicrous, it makes it almost unreachable for people like us - it has almost bankrupted us before we start.
"How can it be that easy for one member of the public to put us out of business?
"It’s ridiculous to say their only concern is loud music when we’re next to a live music venue."
The O’Neill’s venue is next door, while the The Snug wine bar is 14m in the opposite direction and The Falcon pub is also in close proximity.
Mr Sealy said the opening weekend closure cost him £11,000 and forced him to let go of 25 new members of staff – 22 of which came off the dole - because they couldn't wait any longer for wages.
He also spoke of his frustration at the council, which he said offered no help in processing the application, and asked why the authority's various different departments do not work more closely together to save time.
He said: "We’re green at this. We’ve only ever done pubs before where you don’t really have to worry about a premises licence, but when you’re learning you need some help."
"And why don’t they all get together at the beginning to save all the paperwork? Why doesn’t licensing tell planning, ‘when an application comes in for a change of use or a bar, let us have a peek at it’ so they can go through all the details and save each other time?"
Catherine Spalton, spokesman for Wycombe District Council, said: "We appreciate that the owner may be frustrated by the licensing process and the timescales involved, but as these are both things that are set out in law, we hope that the owner understands that we can't change them.
"The legal requirement for the consultation period is 28 days and we cannot issue a licence before the end of that period.
"The owner/applicant was made aware of all of the deadlines and the fact that we would not be able to issue a licence before 28 days of consultation, while one of our officers was helping them to complete the necessary forms - this was also later confirmed in writing."
She added that during the consultation period anyone is free to object to the licence, at any time. The council is then legally obliged to hold a licence panel hearing, for which 10 working days' notice of a hearing must be given. The hearing itself must then take place in the following 10 working days.
She said: "Planning and licensing applications are entirely separate as they consider different aspects of the usage of a building and are also covered by entirely separate legislation. Equally, the role of police and council licensing officers fulful different roles.
"Our role is to administer the licensing process, whereas the police review and ensure that the crime and disorder objectives are complied with."
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