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Bar has its alcohol licence revoked after repeatedly breaching conditions - Watford

26 Feb 2021
  • A Watford bar has lost its alcohol licence after its management team repeatedly breached its conditions over 12 months

  • Officers received numerous reports of noise disturbance and illegal operating hours at Abaco's Bar-2, on Whippendell Road

  • Police worked closely with the borough council's environmental health team to try and address the issues but this was unsuccessful

A bar in Watford has lost its alcohol licence after its management team repeatedly breached its conditions over the course of a year.

Between 5 January 2020 and 2 January 2021, police received numerous reports in relation to Abaco’s Bar-2 on Whippendell Road.

At the Watford Borough Council review hearing on Thursday 11 February, the Licensing Committee heard there were several noise complaints in both early and late 2020, as well as reports that the business was operating well beyond the hours stated on its licence.

In addition, police attended three separate incidents – in October, November and December last year – after the bar allegedly breached COVID-19 restrictions by not wearing PPE, failing to socially distance or serve food, and continuing to open its doors to customers during the lockdown period.

Fixed penalty notices were issued on all three occasions but prosecution process has now begun after the management team failed to settle the fines within the initial 28-day period.

Taking all evidence from police and environmental health officers into account, the committee found that the bar had breached its conditions as set out in its license under the Licensing Act 2003.

Sergeant Luke Mitchell, from Watford’s Community Safety Unit, led the application for revocation. He said: “We and our partners from the council’s environmental health team attempted to engage and work with the bar’s licence holder on many occasions but unfortunately this always proved unsuccessful.

“We do not take the licence review process lightly but it has been a hugely difficult year for Watford’s hospitality industry and it is simply not right that Abaco’s has continued to flagrantly disregard the restrictions, when other businesses have dutifully adhered to them. We tried every possible route to avoid this review but ultimately our hands were forced.”

“We hope this sends a strong message to the management team at Abaco’s – we will not tolerate repeated breaches of licensing or COVID-19 regulations which are there to keep the public safe, and prevent crime and disorder.” 

Elected Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor said: “This business put its staff and the local community at risk and it’s unacceptable they ignored the restrictions. The council, along with our colleagues at the police, have been working really hard to keep our residents and businesses safe during the current lockdown.

“We understand that this is a difficult time for businesses, however, the restrictions are in place to reduce the spread of Covid-19. We are continuing to work proactively with local businesses and residents to bring the number of coronavirus cases down in Watford.

“Cases will only drop if we follow the health advice and stick to government guidance. The restrictions clearly show which businesses must close and financial support is available for those affected.”

The owner of the premises has 21 days to appeal the decision and is allowed to trade (within the current restrictions) until that time elapses. The committee advised the bar’s management team that they must work in partnership with police and environmental health officers to address the breaches, including details of any future measures, prior to any reapplication for the premises licence.

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