Newcastle Taco Bell wins 5am licensing hours appeal

30 Jun

A Taco Bell restaurant in Newcastle, Grainger Street, has won a Licensing Appeal now allowing the venue to provide eat-in and click and collect services until 3am and delivery until 5am. This is a great addition to Newcastle’s late-night economy and provides an alternative option for the locals.

The Appellant, Jennifer Baines, Head of Operations for the QFM Group, has oversight on the 77-seat quick-service restaurant. Chris Grunert, a John Gaunt and Partners Solicitor assisted the complainant during the original Premises License application and returned to aid with the appeal.

The original license was granted by Newcastle Licensing Authority on 22 October 2018 which permitted the venue to serve food until midnight.

On 20 March 2020 an application was submitted to alter the existing licence restrictions regarding the operating times. The amendment sought to extend the closing hours to 5am daily but did not adjust any other conditions or the permitted alcohol sale hours.

The application received objections from the Licensing Authority, Northumbria Police and Newcastle City Council’s Environmental Health service. The full extension was said to be a threat to the licensing objectives which include: Prevention of Crime and Disorder and Prevention of public nuisance.

Jonathan Bryce for the Licensing Authority said he was concerned that later opening hours would result in increased takeaway business which could lead to more anti-social behaviour, crime, litter, and noise. This was despite the fact the restaurant had no history of enforcement action and other Taco Bell restaurants in Nottingham and Leeds operated successfully with similar licensing hours.

The application was then revised to consider a 3:30am closing time rather than the initial 5am. This was considered by the Sub-Committee on 7 July 2020 but the outcome resulted in the licence only being extended to 1am. Unsatisfied with this decision, QFM put forward an appeal.

QFM instructed leading Licensing Counsel Leo Charalmbides along with Mr Grunert to prosecute the Appeal.  Mr. Grunert explained that area's Cumulative Impact Policy restrictions do not apply here based on the Sub-Committee's previous statement that the venue was defined as a restaurant rather than a takeaway.  Mr Charalmbides highlighted deficiencies with the Newcastle Policy which in the context of the Public Sector Equality Duty.  Both of these arguments found favour before the Appeal Court.

Joanne Cox-Brown, Founding Director of Night Time Economy Solutions Ltd and expert witness in the case, highlighted Newcastle's requirement to adhere to the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED). This is the public authority’s responsibility to consider how their decisions affect people who are protected under the Equality Act.

She said: “I would suggest that this needs to review in line with the Purple Flag accreditation, with questions asked about how safe, diverse and welcoming the night-time economy is for women, ethnic minorities, young people and disabled people. Having an offer such as Taco Bell clearly supports this objective.”

Jen Baines, Head of Operations for Taco Bell commented on the outcome saying:

“I am delighted with the outcome and pleased a compromise could be found.  As a company we take very seriously our responsibilities to promote the Licensing Objectives, every day.  I am really excited about the extended service we can now offer to our Newcastle customers and believe we will assist in the further positive diversification to Newcastle’s night-time economy.

Our Appeal team of Chris, Leo and Jo were all great and helped guide us through the process presenting our case to the Court with great clarity and passion.”

Law correct at the date of publication.
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