Ealing’s sub-licencing committee fell into temporary disorder after an applicant’s lawyer fired verbal shots across the bow at council officers.
The representative for Tiger Bay restaurant Leo Charalambides set his stall early in proceedings telling the assembled panel of councillors that “all we are doing is rearranging furniture.”
Despite Mr Charalambides insisting that considerations beyond the new layout of the restaurant were “irrelevant” it didn’t stop both the council and police from making representations as well as Punkaj Walia who spoke on behalf of the nearby Crowne Hotel.
In his opening remarks the lawyer, who was presenting the case for approval at the behest of Puli Bay Limited, stated that concerns raised by Ealing Council officer Paul Murphy, and Sergeant James Bradshaw would be unlawful to consider.
He told chair Cllr Antony Kelly: “Respectfully sir, although you might be interested in car parks and cars and traffic and planning and noise and all the other myriad things that have been thrown into the representations, they are entirely irrelevant and it would be unlawful to engage with them.”
Mr Charalambides said that further considerations than the plan set out in front of the panel would be equal to a ‘backdoor review’ of the premises licence which he insisted was prohibited – a contention that was eventually supported by the council’s own legal advisor.
Even with the lengthy preamble in which the lawyer forthrightly instructed the council as to what they were and weren’t allowed to do, Mr Murphy was not deterred from attempting to put forward his case.
However, at the slightest mention of concerns for residents living in the area who may be watching the meeting on YouTube, Mr Charalambides leapt into action. He reiterated the fact that the application was purely to move “tables and chairs” and told the panel that “this is not a PR exercise for [Mr Murphy] to talk to residents”.
After some intervention from the council’s legal expert, Mr Murphy continued to make his case with noticeable restraint. He said that the material changes to the building’s layout could exacerbate pre-existing concerns about noise – with significant investment taking place which would likely increase restaurant footfall.
Tiger Bay is currently licenced to open until 3am, with the application in question not looking to augment the hours. Mr Charalambides added that he believed that the layout change to the restaurant would help a more “food-led” approach and actually help cut the number of people attending the late night premises just to drink.
Although this appeared to be an approach appreciated by the licencing panel, James Bradshaw of the Metropolitan Police still raised some concerns that they had about the restaurant. Mr Charalambides took particular umbrage to the police officer’s comment that Tiger Bay operated “more like a nightclub” than a restaurant.
Although his representation was limited after Mr Charalambides laid down the law earlier in the meeting, in his written submission he lists a number of recent incidents he deemed relevant to the venue. Part of the statement read that Tiger Bay had “a consistent history of reports relating to low-level disorder.”
“There is one incident of a stabbing outside the venue following an England football match.” This was not mentioned in the meeting itself or considered by the panel – only being present in the meeting’s agenda.
When asked by the police officer what he believed would happen if the premises’s application was granted Mr Charalambides responded: “I’m not mystic Meg,” before reiterating his concern around the way the way the application had been handled stating: “It’s like an 80s interior [decoration] show which has gone insane because no one understands it.”
In his summing up the lawyer once again made it clear that the application was simply to change the interior layout of the restaurant and the panel should consider this alone when assessing it. After brief deliberations, the council granted the amendment to the licence