Agenda item

Hurlingham (Passenger Vessel), Lambeth Pier, Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7SG (Bishop's)

Minutes:

Presentation by the Licensing Officer

The Sub-Committee was informed that this was an application to review a premises licence following a summary review. The Sub-Committee’s attention was drawn to Chapters 2 and 12 of the Statutory Guidance, as the ones particularly relevant to this application. The options available to the Sub-Committee were set out in paragraphs 6.2 of the report on pages 172 of the agenda papers.

The Licensing Officer confirmed:

 

·      This was an application for a full review of a premises following a summary review.

·      22 representations had been received in support of the review application.  

·      CCTV video and Police body worn footage was available for the Sub-Committee to examine.

 

Presentation by the applicant

 

Ms Woods, representing the Police, informed the Sub-Committee that:

 

·      The premises was a vessel, often referred to as a ‘party boat’. 

·      The premises was often based in a residential area. 

·      The premises was considered to be a nightclub. This was supported by promotional material relating to the premises which had been described as ‘a floating nightclub’. It also acted as a football fans travel and transfer vessel. 

·      The premises also sold alcohol. 

·      The review application had been instituted as a result of an incident of serious violence occurring at the premises.

·      There was a long history of complaints regarding the premises and this was not something that the applicant was at the meeting to address.

·      The concern related to the crime and disorder objective. 

·      There had been a series of incidents at the premises in the past year. 

·      Conditions that had been suggested to the licence holder had been mostly agreed.

·      The applicant’s position was that unless the conditions were agreed in full by the licence holder, then revocation of the licence would be sought. 

·      The first relevant incident that could be listed was from 25 May 2019.

·      The captain called Police to the premises as a fight had broken out.

·      The individual involved in the fight was drunk. When the vessel docked, Police searched the premises and arrested an individual for ABH. Only 1 security staff member was on board at the time.

·      There was an incident in July 2019 when the Police were called due to a noise nuisance issue. The DJ on the microphone was using profanity and encouraging patrons to repeat his words.

·      Another incident in July 2019 occurred at a 130 people event. This event was cancelled due to safety issues which had been identified.

·      On 3 August 2019, a fight had occurred at the premises. The licence holder lost control of patrons and had to contact the Marine Service Unit to manage the disorder.

·      On 29 September 2019, the premises carried Leeds United football fans who were engaging in anti-social behaviour. One individual ran in to market nearby and started burning Turkish flags.Police identified mismanagement of alcohol service and inappropriate levels of security at the premises.

·      In three of the incidents outlined, patrons were drunk.

·      On 16 October 2019, a meeting was held between Police and the licence holder. 

·      There had been ongoing problems with Class A drugs as patrons had been found carrying them. 

·      On the 19 October 2019 and 25 October 2019, two additional violent incidents were recorded.

·      On 19 October 2019, a passenger set off a fire extinguisher in the wheelhouse and was abusive to the captain. This had damaged the equipment on-board and put everyone on board at risk. No security staff were present to handle the situation. The patron admitted to being drunk and taking ketamine. 

·      Officers contacted the DPS regarding the incident but received no response.

·      There was a large-scale incident of disorder the following weekend, which was caught on CCTV.As a number of passengers disembarked form the boat, they entered into an altercation and physical assaults were committed.

·      Officers who happened to be in attendance at the time (who were present to make a standard Licensing check) had to become involved in the situation and were told that staff were unable to operate the CCTV. 

·      Some passengers could be seen carrying drinks off the premises.

·      The incident showed a pattern of behaviour (the service of alcohol, the security on the premises and use of the premises for criminal activity) occurring at the premises.

·      Police had met with the licence holder on 18 November 2019 and had a list of 14 conditions.  Almost all the conditions had been agreed but there were some minor disagreements. This included the condition regarding the use of an ID scanner.

·      The licence holder did not wish to use the ID scanner for all events and Police had suggested that this could be addressed so that it would be used for all events serving alcohol after 20:00 and any football-related events. Police felt that the condition could be imposed as originally suggested.

·      Police wanted 6 members of SIA staff to be on duty and these were not to be dual-role staff members. A dedicated security staff was required. 

·      The dynamic of the premises was unusual, as it floated from place to place and unlike most nightclubs, whilst it was afloat, people were not simply able to leave the premises. This made it harder for Police to attend the premises along with additional risks such as people falling into the water or the vessel crashing.

·      The applicant would only agree to 4 members of SIA security staff.  

 

 

 

In response to questions from Members,Ms Woods, informed the Sub-Committee that:

 

·      The premises licence holder had said that they did not have sufficient staff to stop people opening windows on board.

·      There was only one set of security staff for two bars.

·      Had the Police not attended the premises by coincidence, then the incident on 25 October 2019 would have escalated.

·      The website for the premises had stated that the premises had 2 dancefloors and 2 bars. 

 

At this point in the proceedings, representatives of the premises licence holder stated that there was only one bar and a galley. The website being referred to by Ms Woods was out of date. Further, the premises could occupy a maximum 150 passengers.

 

Ms Woods stated that the promotional video for the premises stated that the premises had two bars.

 

Presentation from interested parties

 

Ms Bina Patel, Licensing Manager, informed the Sub-Committee that:

 

·      A meeting was arranged on 28 November 2018 with the licence holder. 

·      The licence holder stated that they wished to vary the licence to add conditions as residents had raised concerns regarding the use of the premises and how it was managed.However, this application was never submitted.

·      There were breaches of conditions such as controlling the music via noise limiting equipment and patrons not leaving in a quiet and orderly fashion. 

·      There may be other breaches of which she was not aware. 

·      As the DPS and the premises licence holder could not maintain the licensing objectives, she asked that the licence be revoked.

·      She was happy with the conditions that had been suggested by the Police.

 

The Sub-Committee was then addressed by residents. Ms Cecil Young informed the Sub-Committee that: 

 

·      The premises had been described by its operators as an open-air floating nightclub.

·      The premises did not have adequate soundproofing as the DJ could be heard shouting on the vessel.

·      Patrons had been observed as being rowdy, twerking and making obscene gestures. 

·      There had been loutish behaviour observed on Saturday afternoon by patrons associated with football events. This had happened over the last year.

·      Patrons could often be heard screaming and shouting like they were on a football terrace.

·      The noise was unacceptable and if the premises was a nightclub, it would have been closed down. The business was only getting away with this behaviour because the premises was always moving.

·      Windows on the vessel would often be opened. 

·      Her neighbour had three young children. The bedrooms in the home were in front of river and her children had heard profanity from the premises. The children were young and had to go to bed at 20:00. They were not able to sleep. 

·      Loud noise was a health hazard and her health was being affected. She was suffering from insomnia.

·      Residents’ lives had become very difficult due to the behaviour of the patrons. 

·      The licence should be revoked.

 

Mr Amir Eden informed the Sub-Committee that:

 

·      He concurred with the other residents’ concerns.

·      The form of management and the thematic tone of the premises enabled the patrons occupying the environment to be disorderly.

 

Southwark Councillor, Councillor Adele Morris, informed the Sub-Committee that: 

 

·      Speaking on behalf of the residents in Southwark, complaints regarding the premises went back to 2016, although these had increased.

·      A meeting had been held between the licence holder and residents a year ago. This was an amicable meeting.  Suggestions were provided for the licence holder to make changes, in particular, the installation of double-glazing windows and soundproofing, but these were never implemented.

·      Better sound insulation was expected from the premises licence holder. 

·      Safety was important for the patrons and should be a primary concern.

·      Patrons drinking alcohol and being able to open the windows or hang out of the windows was not safe.

 

Presentation by the premises licence holder

 

Mr Wayne Eldridge, Mr Ben Wilson, Mr Trevor Bailey and Mr Simon Perhar addressed the Sub-Committee as representatives of the licence holder.

 

Mr Simon Perhar, representing the licence holder, informed the Sub-Committee that:

 

·      Page 239 of the agenda papers showed the decision made at the interim stage by the Sub-Committee.

·      The Sub-Committee had found at the previous meeting that other incidents listed were not as severe as the incident that occurred on 25 October 2019. 

·      He would suggest that the Sub-Committee consider the representations made by the licence holder. 

 

Mr Ben Wilson informed the Sub-Committee that:

 

·      He was a licensed waterman and licenced captain by trade. He was the sixth generation of his family to have a close association with the River Thames.

·      He was also a designated warden and had ventured into the pleasure boating business five years ago. 

·      He had a team around him who he had worked in other industries such as nightclubs and pubs.

·      Over the last five years, the vessel had over 600 trips and had 90,000 passengers.

·      The business was a long-term business and he had a view to expand it.  The business owners only wished to do this at the right time.

·      From all the trips that the vessel had made, only a handful of incidents had occurred at the premises. 

·      Since the incident on 25 October 2019, there had been three positive meetings held including with the Marine Unit and Licensing.

·      Only a few suggestions by the Police had not been accepted as some of them did not work within the business model they had such as the use of scanning equipment on patrons for every event.

·      He wished to move the premises away from being a floating nightclub. The business was introducing other types of entertainment such as a Michael Buble sing along event and a contract had been secured with Time Out magazine.

·      Corporate events would also take place on the premises.

·      The applicant was willing to work with Police and was willing to notify Police regarding every event and to assess events in a collaborative manner.

·      Residents’ concerns were important.

·      Most of the conditions on the licence had been met.

·      The replacement of the windows would cost £40,000.

·      There were seven families who were dependent on the business for their livelihoods.

·      During the time of the incident on 25 October 2019, there had been no altercation on the premises. The altercation had occurred as the patrons were disembarking from the vessel.

·      CCTV was sent over the Licensing team which confirmed that there had been no problems on the premises itself.

·      The business was open to any suggestions that could be made by the Sub-Committee. 

·      He was confident that all parties could work together.

 

In response to questions from Members, representatives of the premises licence holder informed the Sub-Committee that:

 

·      The plans outlined in the agenda papers were drawn in the early 2000s. 

·      The galley could be used as second bar but it was never used that way.

At this point in the proceedings, Ms Woods stated that the website for the premises advertised two bars on the vessel. A virtual tour was available on the website which stated in writing that there were two bars.

 

In response to further questions from Members, representatives of the premises licence holder informed the Sub-Committee that:

 

·      The estimated number of trips made by the vessel were simply estimates.

·      The premises had a capacity of 150 passengers. This did not include the crew.

·      Patrons when boarding the premises would go through a clicker system which would monitor the number of patrons on the premises.

·      For the ID scanners to work properly, internet connection was required and sometimes this was not available on the vessel. The use of the ID scanner would also take a long time and this would slow the process of boarding patrons onto the vessel. The general allotted time for boarding passengers was 15 minutes and there were other vessels that needed to take passengers on board.

·      The Operations Manager at TFL had stated that only the promoted events could use the ID scanners.

·      Use of the ID scanner did not seem reasonable for events such as birthday parties and weddings. 

·      There had not been many club events since the meeting that had been held with the Licensing team.

·      The premises had changed and had stepped away from club events and had held events such as Pokémon Fishing for children and an ABBA event.

·      The business had agreed for Licensing to check the sound limiters at the premises to ensure that they were set at 85 dB.

·      DJs had been told that the sound would cut off after a particular volume. This had been observed in action by the Licensing team and the Port of Health Authority.

·      The next 40 events to be held at the premises would be Christmas sing along events.

·      It was very difficult to ask patrons to bring ID particularly if they were children or elderly individuals.

·      It was difficult for ID scanners to receive Internet connection on the vessel.

·      The applicant that could only agree to additional conditions for certain events.

·      The premises always had at least two SIA staff members. The general rule was to have two SIA staff members for a 150 person event.

·      All patrons were searched before boarding, no liquids were allowed on board and all women’s bags would be checked.

·      The applicant would agree to having four members of SIA staff for a 150 person event.

·      The business was simply trying to be reasonable from a business perspective.

·      People were refused alcohol if they were intoxicated.

At this point in the proceedings, Ms Patel informed the Sub-Committee that a meeting had taken place previously between all relevant parties. The licence holder was present at the meeting where issues had been discussed. It was the responsibility of the licence holder to meet the arrangements that they had agreed to or communicate any difficulties in meeting those arrangements, however there had been no communication from the licence holder since the meeting. 

 

The Legal Officer referred the hearing to page 250-1 of the agenda papers which showed a set of agreed actions arising from the aforementioned meeting stating that double glazed windows would be installed by the end of 2019.

 

In response to questions from Members, representatives of the premises licence holder informed the Sub-Committee that:

 

·      Of the nine actions that had been agreed in the meeting, the licence holder had completed eight of them.

·      New windows could be installed, but this would not stop patrons opening them.

·      There were other vessels on the Thames River undertaking the same activities as the premises.

·      There was no substantial evidence to suggest that the noise was actually emanating from the premises.

·      The business had a dispersal policy. Thirty minutes before the terminal hour for the sale of alcohol, last orders would be called over the PA system and the DJ would reduce the volume of the sound, Twenty minutes before the terminal hour, staff would take their exit positions, Fifteen minutes before the terminal hour, staff would stop serving, Five minutes before the terminal hour, the DJ would announce the last record. At the terminal hour, staff would take positions on the front gate whilst the vessel docked.  Staff would depart the bar to clean the premises of glasses and drinks with one member of staff left behind at the bar. DJ would thank patrons and ask them to leave quietly.  Five minutes after the vessel docked on the pier, security staff would inform patrons to finish their drinks and leave. Ten minutes after the vessel had docked, there would be a second announcement for patrons to leave and they would be asked to remain quiet. After the pier would be cleared of patrons, the vessel would leave the pier.

 

In response to questions from Members, Ms Woods informed the Sub-Committee that:

 

·      The ID scanner only needed to be connected to the internet in order to transmit information. It did not need Internet connection in order to operate or input information.

·      If more time was required for the premises staff to load the vessel with patrons then an additional fifteen minute period would only entail an additional £35 charge for the licence holder.

·      The premises had not been trading since the previous incident had occurred so compliance with the licensing conditions could not be tested.

·      Page 185 of the agenda papers stated that there had been a fight on the premises.

·      If the licence holder’s representatives were correct in their estimation of the amount of passengers that the premises had carried, then the premises would have to have been at full capacity on every occasion at every event held on the premises.

·      There did not appear to be any information on the business’ website stating that the premises would hold family-oriented events.

 

In response to questions from Members, representatives of the premises licence holder informed the Sub-Committee that:

 

·      There were over 40 ‘party boats’ on the River Thames which also carried patrons attending football matches. The premises held only six such events a year.

·      Tactical Football Police preferred those attending football matches to be on boats, away from the general public.

·      It was not clear where the noise experienced by the residents was coming from.

·      Sound limiters had been fitted onto the premises since the premises was in operation.

·      A new sound system had been brought three years ago.

·      The sound limiters were set at the appropriate level.

 

 

In response to questions from Members, Mr Ian Spooner, Marine Support Unit informed the Sub-Committee that:

 

·      Cooperation was expected from vessels such as the Hurlingham.    

·      With the numbers of patrons occupying the vessels, he would expect more calls for assistance from the vessels. 

·      The Marine Support Unit found that it was only contacted when a licensing issue had been brought up. 

·      It was often the case that when there had been an incident that occurred on a vessel, the Marine Support Unit were not being informed.

·      The Marine Support Unit was aware of noise concerns but had not been contacted regularly to deal with this. TheMarine Support Unit wished to help deal with issues such as this.

·      There was a concern that if a patron leaving a vessel became fatally injured on the way home, it could not be identified from which vessel the patron had exited.

 

In response to questions from Members, representatives of the premises licence holder informed the Sub-Committee that:

 

·      There were issues with many vessels in the River Thames. 

·      12 out of 14 of the proposed conditions had been agreed.

·      It was up to the Sub-Committee to determine a fair and proportionate decision.

·      Noise limiters had been put in to the premises to deal with noise issues.

·      The Sub-Committee should consider the evidence for what had been said at this meeting.

·      The review application had been submitted as a result of a one-off incident.

 

Adjournment and Decision

At 5:29pm, the Sub-Committee withdrew from the meeting together with the Legal Advisor and Clerk to deliberate in private.

The Sub-Committee had heard and considered representations from all those who spoke.

Legal advice was given to the Sub-Committee on the options open to them and the need for any decision to be proportionate. The Sub-Committee decided to grant the review application and impose additional conditions.

RESOLVED: To grant the review application and impose additional conditions.

Announcement of Decision

Members returned to the meeting and the Chair informed those present of the decision to grant the review application and impose additional conditions. The Sub-Committeewas very close to making a decision to revoke the licence but decided instead to impose the conditions proposed by the Police and detailed in the report, these being additions to, and variations of, the set of conditions imposed at the interim steps hearing. The ID scanner system would be implemented to any event after 20:00 and to any football related event. There would be 6 SIA staff on duty at all times. The Sub-Committee also determined that a noise limiter should be set to the satisfaction of the local authority and would impose the Council’s model sound conditions which regulated that the sound limiter be set by the council and maintained at that set level at all times. The Sub-Committed wanted the license holder to engage with the Marine Support Unit to help the business become a better operator. The licence holder also needed to be a better neighbour to local residents. There should be no outside speakers whatsoever other than the captain using the emergency speaker. The licence holder would also be required to install double glazing windows before it resumed licensable activity. Full written reasons for this decision would follow in due course.

 

Supporting documents: