24-hour licence granted for part of Preston’s Guild Hall

CGI of Preston's Guild Hall, after plans were revealed for LeVeL
CGI of Preston's Guild Hall, after plans were revealed for LeVeL
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A 24-hour licence has been granted for part of a major city venue, as part of its bid to become an “oasis for the arts and leisure”.

But Guild Hall bosses failed in their bid to serve alcohol in the whole centre until 6am, after police raised major fears about the knock-on effect on the rest of Preston.

They had applied to Town Hall chiefs to allow “licensable activities” in all areas until 6am, but leaders took the decision to allow them until 4am, following the police concerns.
However, Preston Council’s licensing sub-committee allowed such activities to take place in LeVeL, the proposed bowling alley and live entertainment venue, for 24-hours a day.

Richard Simkin, the Guild Hall’s head of operations, said: “It’s obviously a positive that we’ve got 24 hours for LeVeL - it’s the first venue of its kind in Preston.”

But he said the team was “slightly disappointed” the 6am alcohol licence had not been granted for the rest of the venue.

He said: “We are hoping the police will allow us to have temporary event notices to 6am so we can prove we can do it, and then resubmit a 6am licence application.”

At Friday’s hearing, the venue’s owner Simon Rigby said the team was committed to developing the Guild Hall as a “hub”, for the city and the county.

He said security was “way beyond” what was required, and said he wanted the centre to be a 24-hour entertainment venue.

But licensing sergeant Tony Bushell raised major fears about the application for a 6am alcohol licence across the Guild Hall, and said it would increase alcohol-related crime and disorder, lead to “severe difficulties” in being able to police the extra hours, and said: “It will have a negative long-term impact on the future of Preston city centre, not just the night time, but the day time.”

The Guild Hall falls within Preston Council’s cumulative impact policy area or “red zone”, and Sgt Bushell said there had been a high number of incidents of violence so far this year in that area.

He said there was an “entente cordiale” in Preston around operating hours in the city, and said allowing a 6am licence in the whole venue would “open the flood gates to other premises wanting to operate until 6am”.

He said increased competition for customers at that time would be likely to lead to drinks promotions, and said: “I’m not saying that’s what the Guild Hall want to do, but that’s the reality.

“They might not do it, but other premises will.”

He said it would have an impact on takeaways, taxi drivers and other emergency services, and said the number of police officers had been cut dramatically in recent years.

He described the work being done at the Guild Hall as “commendable”, but said he was concerned about the potential negative knock-on effect.

A council spokesman said: “Following the hearing on Friday 21 October 2016 the Licensing Authority has determined this morning to grant the above application.

However, not on the terms requested.

“The applicant had requested authorisation for licensable activities in all areas until 6am but the decision has been made to allow licensable activities until 4am in all areas except the proposed LeVeL entertainment area where licensable activities will be permitted for 24 hours daily.

“The application is granted subject to a number of conditions and the official Decision Notice will be published in due course.”

“Alcohol can be served in LeVeL for 24-hours a day, “only if ancillary to the entertainment”.