Lawyer suggests ‘foul play’ at Havering Council as Upminster cafe applies for alcohol licence

The cafe opened in 2018. Picture: Ken Mears

The cafe opened in 2018. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

A lawyer suggested there may have been “foul play” and “something going awry” at Havering Council during a cafe’s attempt to apply for an alcohol licence.

Ace Coffee & Bagel in Station Road, Upminster, has applied to serve alcohol from 8am until 11pm, with the condition that drinks will only be served to customers eating a meal.

Police withdrew their objection to the application last week after discussions with the owner and no residents or councillors raised concerns.

The only objection presented at a virtual meeting this morning, Tuesday, June 16, was from the council’s own planning authority.

Planning officer Peter Miller said the premises had submitted an application to change from a retail business to a cafe in 2018 but had been refused on the basis that it was “unlawful use”.

However, licensing lawyer David Dadds told the sub-committee Mr Miller was “completely incorrect”.

He said: “The application before you is relatively straightforward. I’m very concerned that there may have been foul play here.

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“I have never had a hearing where the only party objecting is a planning authority. This application is lawful and the licensing objectives would be promoted.”

He asked that the planning authority’s objection be “disregarded” by the sub-committee as it did not relate to the licensing objectives.

Regarding the application in 2018, he said it was rejected because the premises had already changed use and therefore was not eligible for the prior approval process.

However, he explained that businesses can apply retrospectively, with change of use only becoming unlawful if an enforcement notice is issued.

Mr Dadds added: “Retailers are finding it very hard right now and should not be going through unnecessary hoops to get their businesses surviving.”

Cllr Philippa Crowder (Con, Pettits), who chaired the sub-committee, agreed that “no one wants to put a hammer to the High Street”.

The sub-committee will issue its decision on the application within the next five days.

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