A Pontypridd pub – regarded as the worst in the County Borough for crime and disorder - has lost its licence to sell alcohol following a catalogue of incidents.
Morgan Tavern on High Street had its license revoked following an extensive multi-agency investigation by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and South Wales Police.
The pub was deemed to be in contravention of all four basic licensing objectives by failing to prevent crime and disorder, protect public safety, prevent public nuisance and protect children from harm.
In a hearing by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Licensing Committee, Trading Standards and South Wales Police produced a damning report of the way the premises operated which produced sufficient evidence to warrant losing its license.
Numerous meetings and approaches were made by officers to the management and licensee to deal with the escalating levels of crime and disorder. However, the police listed 15 incidents alone which referred to offenses of assault or disorder and stated the levels continued to rise.
The Committee heard how a lack of CCTV camera footage to investigate incidents fully exacerbated the situation. The report blamed the inability of management to exercise effective control of the premises and a lack of social responsibility to assist police with the investigation of offences, primarily occurring in the pub itself
Other matters brought to the attention of the Licensing Committee included:
Failure to adhere to last entry time for patrons on Friday and Saturday
Failure to adhere to terminal hour for closure
Failure to maintain training for staff in respect of selling age-restricted produce
Concern about the over-capacity of the building
Concern at the potential vulnerability of young persons attending the premises
Concern at potential of young people be served alcohol as there is absence of compliance to prevent such sales
Public nuisance with audible music noise – including placing speakers in the garden which could be heard in Court House Street some distance away
The Committee was told of the concern that staff served young people who were indirectly being exposed to violent incidents and drug use while visiting the pub. In such circumstances covert operations are in place whereby an underage person tries to purchase alcohol from the premises. However, given the many problems at the public house, the authority would not undertake an operation for fear of putting the young person in danger.
The license was previously revoked in 2009 but following a successful appeal with a robust set of management conditions set in place and a change-of-name from the Celtic Pride to the Morgan Tavern, management re-branded the business and vowed to distance itself from its former reputation.
But despite the passage of time little had changed and collectively all responsible authorities expressed concerns as to the competence of the management regime in place. This lack of confidence was reinforced in the inability of the management to break the cycle of bad behaviour associated with the pub.
But the manager of the pub, who appeared at the hearing, said he was not present on weekends and relied upon his staff to keep him abreast of incidents. He also claimed CCTV footage was available.
South Wales Police stated that they use a “traffic light system” to indicate levels of crime and disorder, naming the Morgan Tavern as the only premises in Rhondda Cynon Taf to have attained a consistent “red level” with the highest number of serious incidents logged.
Following all consideration, the Licensing Committee revoked the license to sell alcohol at the Morgan Tavern. The Licensee appealed against that decision and the appeal was determined last week by the Magistrates’ Court where District Judge John Charles upheld the decision of the Licensing Committee, which he described as “reasonable and proportionate”.
Although the judge recognised that there had been some improvement in management of the premises, recent monitoring highlighted further problems and he was not confident that this improvement could be sustained. He ordered the appellant to pay costs of £4,370.
Head of Community Protection at Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, David Jones said: “The Licensing Authority expects every holder of a license to be responsible for minimising the impact of their activities and the behaviour of their patrons.
“In this particular case, a catalogue of drunken, violent and antisocial behaviour by patrons, shows that the management of the Morgan Tavern have once again blatantly disregarded their responsibilities, the law and the conditions of their license. Under these circumstances revocation of the license was the only realistic option open to the Licensing Committee.
“This is a clear case of partner agencies coming together in order to deal with an issue that was causing them and, importantly, the wider community, a serious problem.
“It is important to remember that the huge majority of licensed premises in Rhondda Cynon Taf work extremely hard to uphold the law and meet the high standards we set, via licensing conditions, to ensure their venues are safe, legal and attractive places.”
South Wales Police, the Council and its partners at the Community Safety Partnership is committed to improving the quality of life for our communities and make Rhondda Cynon Taf a safer place in which to live, work and visit by reducing crime and the fear of crime.
Inspector, Nigel Griffiths of South Wales Police said, “It is regretful when any establishment has to cease trading. But at the forefront of the committee’s decision is the welfare and safety of the pub’s staff, customers, neighbouring businesses, and the general public.
“We operate a system in Rhondda Cynon Taf where licensees are given every opportunity to make changes to the way they run their business.
“We’ve worked closely with this particular establishment for a number of years, but it has been unable to mend its ways.
“Violence and drunken anti social behaviour which would often spill out onto the streets outside, has continued to be linked to Morgan’s Tavern and in the end we were left with no other alternative but to apply to stop it from trading.
“I do hope that other licensees will sit up and take notice. We aren’t afraid to review and ultimately seek revocation of licenses when our expectations for their businesses are not met.”