Bar beats booze ban with 'baffling' loophole

Glen Carr and son Jonathan Carr outside Bedfords on its fifth anniversary. Photo: Glen Carr

Glen Carr and son Jonathan Carr outside Bedfords in Norwich, which has got its licence back at an appeal hearing Photo: Glen Carr - Credit: Archant

A Norwich bar has been able to get around a temporary ban on serving alcohol in a situation branded "baffling" by politicians. 

Bedfords Bar on Old Post Office Yard has been able to skirt an eight-week ban on serving alcohol, continuing to open for the Euros and weekends.

The bar was initially stripped of its licence by Norwich City Council’s licensing committee after an incident in November - the day before the country went into the second lockdown

Around 30 people were filmed singing dancing and hugging, breaking social distancing requirements.

Appealing the council's decision, Bedfords managed to get magistrates to reduce the decision to an eight-week suspension set to end in August.

Despite the ban, Bedfords Bar has been able to continue serving alcohol.

The bar, owned by former doorman Glen Carr, has been given temporary events notices (TENs) by the city council, allowing them to continue serving alcohol on specific days.

Mr Carr applied for TENs covering the Euros football matches and the weekends leading up to the end of the ban.

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The decision to award TENs has no involvement from councillors and they have no way to block or approve them.

Bedfords Bar on Old Post Office Yard. Photo: Glen Carr

Bedfords Bar on Old Post Office Yard. Photo: Glen Carr - Credit: Archant

Mr Carr refused to comment, only saying he was doing nothing illegal.

The case has led a councillor to call for a rethink of the law.

Norwich South Labour MP Clive Lewis said it was a "baffling loophole" in the rules for licensing premises.

South Norwich Labour MP Clive Lewis Photo: UK Parliament

South Norwich Labour MP Clive Lewis Photo: UK Parliament - Credit: UK Parliament

"Revoking a licence really isn’t much of a deterrent if it’s this easy to get round the spirit and no doubt, intention, of the law by obtaining a temporary licence instead."

The case has led a Green Party Mancroft ward councillor, Sandra Bogelein to call for a rethink of the law.

She said: “The government needs to look at the use of TENs again.

“This is one example of where they cause huge problems and get around what is, in essence, a court order. 

Sandra Bogelein said several people had contacted her with problems booking coronavirus tests. Photo

Sandra Bogelein said several people had contacted her with problems booking coronavirus tests. Photo: Neil Didsbury - Credit: Archant

“In many situations, they are fine and completely appropriate, but when it goes wrong there is nothing the council can do. 

“it’s quite baffling that they can get away with it.” 

A spokesperson for the Home Office, which decides on licensing rules, said it did not comment on individual cases.

But they said: "Temporary Event Notices can be given by anyone wishing to hold an event at which licensable activities, such as the sale of alcohol, take place.

“The police and environmental health department can intervene to prevent an event taking place by sending an objection to the licensing authority, which it must consider and decide if the event should go ahead.”