A SKIPTON bar which only opened less than two years ago has had its licence revoked.

The Ref & Whistle, in Court Lane, was given permission for the change of use from a retail outlet to a micro bar by Craven District Council planning committee in January 2019. A premises licence was granted the following June.

But last week a licensing and appeals sub-committee with the district council voted unanimously to revoke the licence after an application for a review of the licence was made by district councillor David Noland and Skipton town councillor John Dawson.

The sub-committee heard from the council’s environmental health office that there had been a number of Covid-19 breaches.

Officers said the premises had not complied with requirements of social distancing, mask wearing and rules about table service/substantial meals.

Customers had also packed on to the public highway, without social distancing, or mask wearing. Photographs were produced in evidence.

Councillors heard that environmental health officers had issued a prohibition notice under the coronavirus regulations on December 11, requiring the premises to remain closed until further notice.

There were several representations both for and against the licensee.

Some living in nearby Providence Quarter had made complaints about noise coming from the bar premises, while others said they had no issue with the Ref & Whistle and said they believed most of the noise came from the direction of Newmarket Street.

Another Providence Quarter resident said he had lived there for two years and noted the average customers was around 50 years old and that it was, generally, a ‘safe, quiet and sociable local gathering space’.

The owners of the adjacent tapas bar said it was a ‘lovely, quiet and relaxing bar for people to call for a beer and a chat. However, some said the owner had failed to maintain public safety.

One said: “From the day this bar was opened there has been a series of breaches of licensing, planning, environmental and public order regulations.”

Another said: “Our lounge and bedroom overlook the bar. From the time the bar first opened there has been ongoing problems for residents in the vicinity of nuisance, noise, social disorder, customers congregating outside drinking, smoking and partying on the street.”

In total there were 10 letters in support of the review and 14 letters submitted in support of the licence holder.

Councillor Simon Myers, Chairman of the sub-committee, said after the hearing: “The safety of customers and the local community was needlessly being put at risk by the activities at the Ref & Whistle.

“We considered all the representations made to us and came to a unanimous decision. We heard that extensive efforts were made by the council’s environmental health and licensing teams to attempt to ensure that the premises licence holder complied with coronavirus regulations during this difficult time.

“It is disappointing and concerning that the excellent work of these teams, and indeed other partners such as the NHS, who have been working so hard to keep the local community safe over recent months, was being undermined by these premises.

“We want to make it clear to all hospitality businesses that we will not allow breaches such as these to continue. In the interests of public safety, all premises licence holders must behave responsibly at all times.”

The Sub-Committee resolved on a unanimous basis to revoke the Premises Licence under section 52(4) of the Licensing Act 2003, on account of the promotion of public safety and prevention of public nuisance licensing objectives.