Wisbech mayor's pub facing review of its premises licence over alleged breaches of Covid-19 rules
A Wisbech pub is facing scrutiny of its premises licence following alleged breaches of Covid-19 rules on its premises on Christmas Eve - including customers hugging, kissing and helping themselves to alcohol.
The Angel Inn, where current Wisbech mayor Aigars Balsevics is the landlord, is facing a review of its licence by Fenland District Council's licensing committee at the request of environmental health officers, as the responsible authority, following evidence from Cambridgeshire Police.
A report setting out the grounds for the review explains Councillor Balsevics is the pub's Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS).
It says police visited the premises in Alexandra Road at around 9pm on December 24 and subsequently reported their concerns to Fenland District Council.
It adds: "In response to the information received from the police, CCTV footage was requested and obtained from The Angel covering the afternoon and evening of December 24."
The report goes on: "This review documentation sets out the evidence of breaches of relevant health and safety/public health legislation and guidance which amount to a failure to comply with the following licensing objectives: public safety; prevention of crime and disorder."
There are four pages summarising the breaches of the relevant legislation and Covid-19 guidlines applicable on December 24 for a tier two area and an overview of evidence caught on CCTV.
The alleged breaches range from staff failing to wear face coverings, not washing their hands and not cleaning and disinfecting tables and also serving customers at the bar (which was banned under Covid rules).
The report says that CCTV footage shows staff, Coun Balsevics and customers mingling/mixing freely and "on many occasions having physical contact with each other including hugging, kissing, shaking hands and even mock fighting/wrestling".
As the DPS, it is Coun Balsevics' job to ensure staff comply with licensing rules and the Covid guidelines.
The report says that not only would he have been aware of the breaches as he was working at the premises from 3pm onwards, he also commited breaches himself, including failing to socially distance, having physical contact with customers, failing to wear a face mask and serving drinks at the bar.
The review document also alleges the CCTV footage shows that customers only remained seated at tables when police were on the premises.
It also alleges that staff delayed allowing officers in to the pub whilst another staff member is seen attempting to get customers to sit down.
Pubs, under tier two, were only allowed to remain open and serve alcohol if customers were having a meal. But the CCTV footage showed "customers had clearly not had a substantial meal and if they had eaten any food at all, they had not left the premises within a reasonable time after eating".
"Substantial amounts of alcohol being supplied to customers including on occasions trays of 'shots' of alcohol being distributed by customers to other patrons.
"Customers are seen going behind the bar to pour alcoholic drinks for themselves and other customers."
The report says that Coun Balsevics had admitted during a telephone conversation with a police licensing officer that he was fully aware of the Covid-19 controls required to be implemented at his pub and accepted that he was ultimately responsible for ensuring compliance.
The review report concludes: "The evidence provided by the police and the premises' CCTV to Environmental Health demonstrates that health and safety and Covid-19 regulations were breached on December 24, 2020. The DPS and his staff were aware and helped to facilitate those breaches.
"The evidence demonstrates the DPS' disregard of the Licensing Objectives (Public Safety and Prevention of Crime and Disorder) and brings into question whether the DPS can be considered a responsible person to be in control of the sale of alcohol and manage a licensed premises in accordance with the licence conditions and the four licensing objectives."