LGBT+ store in Cardiff slams decision to award a license to a new cocktail bar next door
Ted Peskett, local democracy reporter
An LGBT+ retail store in Cardiff has slammed the decision to grant a premises licence to a popular London cocktail bar which is due to open next door.
The Queer Emporium on St Mary’s Street issued a statement on its social media platforms today expressing its strong opposition to the opening of cocktail bar Blame Gloria next door to it.
The bar was granted a premises licence by Cardiff Council last week, despite concerns among some members of the public that having a bar where people would be daytime drinking next to the Queer Emporium could threaten its position as a ‘safe space’ for people, especially young people, in the LGBT+ community.
The statement from Queer Emporium reads: “As some of you may know, an English chain bar aimed towards the hen party market is opening next door to the queer emporium.
“We always knew something would be opening adjacent to us but, as detailed in that article, we really hoped it wouldn’t be this and we hoped Cardiff Council would see protecting a space that has so many queer kids and other marginalised parts of our community coming through its door as more important than large daytime drinking venues.
“We want to reassure you all that we will continue to fight this space and I’m doing what I can but ultimately we’re up against a big corporation with lawyers in London and we’re a small non profit that started as a pop up.”
The company behind Blame Gloria, Adventure Bar Group, are the same company behind other popular venues, like Tonight Josephine – of which there is a Cardiff branch – Adventure Bar and The Escapologist.
Blame Gloria, which advertises events and deals like bottomless brunches, already has chains in Clapham Junction, Covent Garden and Bristol.
The statement from Queer Emporium continues: “I’ve approached the bar directly to work out a compromise, but, as of right now we seem unable to reach an agreement that we think wouldn’t compromise safety of our customers.
“I want to be clear: we’re taking an issue with the licensing decision and not the staff or performers of Tonight Josephine or Blame Gloria.
“I believe protecting people, especially kids, should be a priority for the council as is their legal obligation.
“You wouldn’t put a bar next to a Build-a-Bear so why put this next to us?”
A lawyer from Poppleston Allen, James Anderson, who was representing Adventure Bar Group at the public meeting on June 7 attempted to reassure those concerned at the time by saying that the bar is “essentially an evening operator” that would open from lunchtime on Saturday and from 4.30pm or 5pm on a weekday.
He said he did not think the bar would be at odds with the community and pointed to the nightclub, Mary’s, which is near the Queer Emporium.
At the meeting, he also added: “Mary’s, which is an award winning LGBT+ venue is opposite us, so it respectfully can’t be that bad if a venue, which is really specialising in an offer to that community is opposite on the same street.
“Safe spaces and mental health is of course something that we take very seriously, but we don’t think that having a space for people for young people to go out and enjoy themselves is at odds with mental health and if anything respectfully, we think that is a good thing for people to be able to go out, have a drink, some food, possibly some entertainment and enjoy themselves.”
A Cardiff Council spokesperson said: “The licencing sub committee has heard this application and recognised the concerns of those who made representations but felt that no evidence was presented that the granting of the application would undermine the promotion of any of the four Licensing Objectives, including that of Prevention of Crime and Disorder.
“The applicant had agreed to some additional conditions proposed by South Wales Police as part of the consultation process.
“Where there is no evidence provided that a Premises Licence will undermine the licensing objectives, there is a presumption to grant the application. If there is evidence that a licensed premises is undermining the licensing objectives, the Licensing Act 2003 allows any person to apply for a review of the Premises Licence.”
Adventure Bar Group said they would not provide a comment at this stage.
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