Gregg Latchams licensing team help keep St Pauls community pub open

March 26, 2019

The last remaining community pub in an inner-city area of Bristol has been saved from closure by the licensing team of city-based law firm Gregg Latchams Solicitors.

The police had recommended that The Criterion in St Pauls, which was plagued last year by a series of violent incidents, have its licence revoked – effectively shutting it down. 

The popular pub was closed pending a review hearing, which was adjourned by a week with the agreement of the police and Bristol City Council’s licensing committee.

This enabled owner Ann White, who has run The Criterion for 16 years, to draw up a list of measures with Gregg Latchams head of regulatory and licensing Ewen Macgregor to present to the committee which would enable her to retain her licence.

These included £30,000 worth of improvements including new door security, additional door supervision on Friday and Saturday nights, enhanced CCTV and restrictions on entry.

As part of its remedial plan, the Gregg Latcham team also received advice from Bristol organisations responsible for promoting independent venues in the city, as well as those involved in the late-night economy, including BARBIE (Bristol Association of Restaurants, Bars and Independent Establishments), consultancy Place Making Bristol and campaign group Save Bristol Nightlife.

At an all-day hearing at City Hall involving the police, Ann White, the head of the new door security team, two pub regulars and Place Making Bristol director Leighton De Burca, the licensing committee agreed to maintain the pub’s extended hours licence, which allow it to stay open until 2am.

While the police had triggered a review of The Criterion’s licence after a series of incidents in, or outside, it between August and December 2018, the licensing committee was told the pub had not previously experience problems during Ann White’s ownership. 

The committee also heard that The Criterion had become the last surviving community pub in St Pauls following the closure of nearby venues – making it a vital meeting place for local people of different generations.

Ewen Macgregor, pictured, said: “It was clear from a very early stage that the pub played a very important part in the social fabric of this particular part of Bristol at a time when a number of other licensed premises in the vicinity had closed.

“It was also clear to me that we had to deal with, and address head on, the incidents that had taken place in the early hours of the morning.

“The closing of the pub allowed Ann to take a step back from the day-to-day operation and assess what steps needed to be taken to ensure the ongoing trading at the premises.

“The assistance and support from organisations like BARBIE, Save Bristol Nightlife and Place Making Bristol all played their part in ensuring that this important community asset is able to continue to trade. I was delighted with the decision and pleased that this important community asset has been preserved.”

Ewen Macgregor, who joined Gregg Latchams in February last year from the Bristol office of transatlantic law firm Womble Bond Dickinson, is a member of the Institute of Licensing and the Gambling Industry Lawyers’ Group and is consultant editor of Licensing Law Reports.

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