'Completely absurd!' Top grammar school defends bid to sell booze on school premises

A top Sutton Coldfield grammar school has defended its bid to sell alcohol on school premises. Bishop Vesey’s on Lichfield Road wants permanent permission to serve alcoholic drinks to parents during school concerts – a plan that has angered parts of the local community.

Bishop Vesey's Grammar School, Lichfield Road, Sutton Coldfield. Source: Google SV
Bishop Vesey's Grammar School, Lichfield Road, Sutton Coldfield. Source: Google SV

Ahead of a Birmingham City Council licensing hearing on Monday (May 22), neighbours of Bishop Vesey’s branded the application ‘completely absurd’. They accused the school of ‘setting a poor example’ for students and took aim at the school for an ‘unfair and ignorant’ proposal.

But Bishop Vesey’s finance and operations director Graham Swindells has insisted the school is not a ‘regular entertainment venue’. At the hearing today, he said: “Our standing as a successful state grammar school in Birmingham means we have a reputation to uphold and we want to continue to do so.

“Since 2014, the number of students in the school has increased. We have gone from a four-form entry school to a six-form entry school, so that’s 192 students in each year group.

“As a result, our capacity as a venue for single-date events such as concerts is no longer viable. Instead of holding it over one night, we now have to hold that event over two nights or occasionally three.”

Bishop Vesey’s said it wanted to ensure every parent can see their child perform. Without a permanent licence, the school has to apply for a temporary event notice (TEN) each time in order to sell drinks such as wine and beer during the intervals.

Neighbours said their patience was already being pushed by school events causing disruption on the roads. They told the city council of their frustration that Boswell Road and its adjoining cul-de-sacs are becoming ‘overspill car parks’.

Mr Swindells continued: “We are very conscious of our neighbours and our local residents. In my time here, we have tried very hard to mitigate traffic issues.

“We try to mitigate as much as possible through communication with parents. All our events we hold in the evening are ticketed events with limited or reduced capacity, and with those tickets, it clearly demonstrates that parking isn’t available on-site where it isn’t available.”

If granted, the licence would allow Bishop Vesey’s to sell alcohol between 6pm and 10pm from Monday to Thursday, then from 6pm to 11pm on Friday. The weekend hours would start from 1pm and finish at 11pm on Saturday and 10pm on Sunday.

Bishop Vesey’s is rated as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted and was last inspected in 2014. City chiefs will now discuss the application in private before releasing their decision within five working days.

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