To receive any apologies for absence and declarations of interest.
The Chair opened the meeting but the applicant had not arrived. He adjourned the meeting for 15 minutes to give the applicant an opportunity to be present at the start of the meeting.
The Enforcement Officer was asked to check reception and the foyer to ascertain whether the applicant had arrived. On his return he confirmed that neither the applicant nor the applicant’s solicitor had arrived.
The Chair reconvened the meeting at 9.15am. He welcomed those present and introductions were made.
No apologies for absence were received.
The Chair sought the legal advice of the Solicitor in the absence of both the applicant and his solicitor.
The Solicitor asked the Enforcement Officer to check the entrance of the building and at reception to ensure the applicant had not arrived.
The Enforcement Officer left the room at 9.18am. He returned at 9.21am and confirmed neither the applicant nor the solicitor had arrived.
The Solicitor said this matter had already been adjourned and in the interests of natural justice, and for those relevant parties involved, it was only right that an independent hearing took place within a reasonable timeframe. The applicant and his solicitor had been served the correct notice of the hearing, and had been aware since 11 September 2019 that the hearing would be taking place on 1 October even though the applicant’s solicitor was unavailable. This had given the applicant and his legal firm ample opportunity to arrange an alternative legal representative. The applicant’s solicitor had been asked twice to provide case law on the right to a specific legal representative. He had failed to provide such case law. She advised the Panel that two courses of action were open to them; to defer the hearing, or to proceed in the applicant’s absence. The appellate process for the latter was explained to the Panel.
At 9.26am the meeting was adjourned to allow the Panel to deliberate.
At 9.49am the meeting was reconvened and the Chair read the Panel’s decision.
DECISION NOTICE –INDIA VILLA, 20 WATLING STREET, THAXTED
The applications before the Panel today are for 1) a transfer of the premises licence of the India Villa restaurant, Watling Street, Thaxted, and 2) a review at the behest of Essex Police. There is reason to believe that the transfer application dated 17th August 2019 (which is opposed by Essex Police as the responsible authority) is an attempt to prevent the review application going ahead.
Mr Burke and Ms Savill of Essex Police are in attendance today, as is Mr Logue, a neighbouring resident. There is no appearance by anyone from or on behalf of India Villa though we are satisfied that they have been personally served with the paperwork in this matter and their legal representative, Mr Sutherland of Keystone Law, was told as long ago as 11th September that the hearing today would not be deferred to fit around his other commitments, see post.
We have listened to the advice tendered to us by our solicitor, Mrs Smith, regarding the potential consequences of proceeding in absentia and we have also had sight of the correspondence between Mrs Smith, the Licensing Department and Keystone Law. I have been consulted in my role as Chair of the Licensing and Environmental Health Committee and I agreed with officers that there had been ample opportunity for an advocate alternative to Mr Sutherland to be retained and instructed. Mrs Smith has formally advised us this morning that though both the common law and the Human Rights Act do give the citizen the right to a timeous and impartial hearing, and to independent legal representation at that hearing, neither give the right to representation by the individual advocate of choice and no authority has been cited to the Council suggesting that there is such a right. We are aware that the independent Bar can and do accept instructions upon very short notice and since September 11th there has been ample opportunity to retain and brief on of its members.
We are mindful that the Police and Mr Logue have attended before us today and that the latter has concerns above and beyond those of the Police. It is not reasonable to expect local residents including Mr Logue to have to continue to accept behaviour of the kind of which he complains. We are also mindful that India Villa have rights of appeal against any decision we make today and that other avenues of challenge to our decision are open to them. We also have had it explained to us, in the presence of the Police and Mr Logue, that the exercise of those rights will keep the licence alive until the conclusion of the appellate process: we can do nothing about this and appreciate that this will not help local residents.
WE have balanced the interests of India Villa against those of neighbouring residents and of the interest of the public generally in the prevention of illegal working, and consider, unanimously, that we should proceed to hear the applications today. We are satisfied that India Villa are aware of the hearing date and given that they have a right of appeal we consider it is in the public interest that we proceed to hear these two applications today.
At 9.52am the Enforcement Officer left the room to check whether the applicant had arrived at reception. He returned at 9.55am and confirmed that the applicant had not arrived.