Licence granted for new micropub despite crime and 'public urination' fears

A new micropub has been granted a licence despite concerns over vandalism, theft and revellers urinating at the back of properties.

A Google Street View image of Lichfield Road Stafford with the shop unit set to become a micropub on the right
A Google Street View image of Lichfield Road Stafford with the shop unit set to become a micropub on the right

A decision is yet to be made on the planning application to convert a shop unit in Lichfield Road, Stafford, into The Ship Aground, but on Tuesday a premises licence enabling the micropub to serve alcohol and play recorded and live music was granted by Stafford Borough Council.

The authority received objections from neighbouring premises to the proposals, with nearby businesses saying there are already several drinking establishments in the area.

John McLean, who spoke on behalf of the four objectors at Tuesday’s hearing, said: “Granting the licence would provide another source of alcohol in an area that is heavily populated with licensed premises. My clients have, over a number of years, been suffering at the hands of revellers causing issues with the operation and ongoing security of their businesses.

“We believe the application as currently presented to the authority will increase those ongoing antisocial behaviour trends and increase the criminal activity that my clients have experienced.

"There have been incidences of vandalism, theft, damage, setting fire to the premises all associated with revellers. And public urination – they tend to come into the back of the property and relieve themselves.

“In relation to public safety, we believe there is no designated smoking area for the property and that would encourage smokers to smoke on the street, on what is a very narrow pavement and very busy road. It’s our concern that the committee will approve a licence that in our opinion is unimplementable, given the existing restrictive and legal covenants on the site.”

But Councillor Ray Sutherland, one of the panel members at Tuesday’s hearing, said: “Considerable dialogue went on with the police on additional conditions and there is nothing in their report to suggest antisocial behaviour concern. That would be one of the licensing concerns.

“Because the police haven’t reported that in their letter suggests to me there is not a big problem in the area, otherwise it would be in the letter.”

The hearing was told the core hours of the micropub were set to be 4pm to 11pm – outside the opening times of neighbouring businesses – and opening days were likely to be Wednesday to Sunday when the premises first opened, so impact on nearby shops would be “minimal”.

Recorded music would be kept at a “conversational volume” during regular trading times of neighbouring businesses and any live music during this time would be acoustic.

Martin Beesley, one of the directors of The Ship Aground, said: “All directors commit to running a safe, mature, reputable and community-focused establishment. We agree to all conditions requested by police and we will proactively work with our neighbours, local community groups, Partners Against Business Crime in Stafford and local law enforcers to create a safe environment.

“We will proactively deter antisocial behaviour, report all such behaviour as appropriate and exercise our right to refuse service. We will operate safeguarding policies such as Challenge 25 and no tolerance towards drug use.

“We will be a non-smoking venue. We will not permit smoking at the front of the property by our clientele. Clear signage will be displayed to convey this to our customers.

“We will keep the area to the front and rear of the premises clean and free from obstruction at all times, to include the removal of all litter at the opening and closing times and at regular intervals in between. We will meet with neighbouring properties regularly to ensure there are no ongoing or unresolved issues.

“We have committed to our neighbours, by their request, that we shall not open the yard to the rear of the property to customers. We have not included this outside area in our application to be licensed and we have confirmed this with police, who have recommended the licence be granted without a hearing on this matter.”

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