A Rothwell gin bar and restaurant that has been illegally selling alcohol has had its application for a licence refused.
It will be soft drinks only now for customers of the Gin Palace and The Old Bakehouse after owner Lee Thorn had his application for a premises licence refused by Kettering’s licensing committee yesterday (Aug 29).
The police, the licensing authority and environmental health had all advised against granting the licence to the town centre venues being granted. Despite a warning from the police and a hand-delivered letter earlier this summer Mr Thorn continued to sell booze without a licence.
Kettering Council’s health service manager Russ Howell told the licensing hearing that it was unusual for the council as the licensing authority to make representations against the application but that ‘this is the most flagrant disregard for licensing that I have ever seen in the borough’.
Mr Thorn, a former Kettering Town Football Club director, took over the businesses earlier this year and said at the hearing that he had invested £150,000 into the venture.
He blamed paperwork issues, not being able to understand the application process, and being a first-time restaurant owner, as reasons why he had not been able to apply for a licence correctly.
He also said he had had an agreement with the previous licence holders of the venues that he could use their licence, but that had been pulled without his knowledge.
Since taking over in March the Gin Palace had successfully applied for four temporary event notices – which allow alcohol sales for a short time – but had been selling alcohol illegally at other times.
Mr Thorn said: “I made a complete and total hash of it and it wasn’t intentional.
He added: “This is the first time I have ever submitted a licensing application in my life and I can assure you it is not an easy process.”
The hearing heard that Mr Thorn was first made aware he did not have a licence in mid March this year. But it was not until June 13th when PC Dave Bryan handed the venue a letter warning of an impending closure notice that a licence was applied for.
Evidence given to the committee included screenshots of the Gin Palace’s Facebook page in which customers had praised the alcoholic beverage offers.
On August 4th Matt Robinson posted: “Our first visit to the Gin Palace last night, great bar. Great atmosphere, good choice of music playing. Good value drinks: 2 for £6 on bud and 2 for £10 on cocktails.”
The venue also did not have a music licence but been hosting live music nights.
After deliberating for an hour the panel, which was chaired by Cllr Lloyd Bunday decided not to grant a licence to the popular nightspot. Cllr Bunday had told Mr Thorn: “We need to make sure you are a fit and proper person to control a licensed premises.”
A statement said: “No satisfactory explanation has been provided by Mr Thorn as to why did he not take action in response to licensing correspondence from police, environmental health and trading standards.
“Mr Thorn has demonstrated by his actions that even when advised that he is in breach of his legal requirements he is still prepared to continue trading.
“Considering all the evidence heard the committee considers it proportionate not to grant this licence application.”
The licensing authority is looking into the illegal alcohol sales with a view to taking legal action due to a breach of the 2003 Licensing Act.