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Pub could close after reports of children drinking, using class-A drugs, and carrying knives

05 Dec 2023 6 minute read
Sonny’s Bar on Towyn Road. Photo via Google

Richard Evans, local democracy reporter

A pub could be forced to close after police advised a licence should be revoked, following reports of children stumbling around drunk, using class-A drugs, fighting, and carrying knives at an under-18s disco.

A licensing committee will meet for a hearing on Friday (December 8) to consider revoking the premises licence of Sonny’s Bar on Towyn Road, which includes the first-floor nightclub Bentley’s.

North Wales Police has applied to the council for the review on the grounds of a lack of management at the pub and nightclub, which opens as late as 3 am.

The pub – known as both Sunny’s Bar and Sonny’s Café & Bar – was granted a variation to its licence in April, to encompass the building’s first floor under the existing premises licence, which would operate as a nightclub marketed as Bentley’s.

At risk

But North Wales Police have since said children have been put at risk, recording sixteen fights, threats of and use of weapons, drunkenness, and theft.

Police also allege that pub staff failed to intervene when vulnerable children were seen lying drunk on the pavement outside the pub.

Consequently, police claim the establishment has failed to prevent crime and disorder and failed to protect children from harm, disregarding the Licensing Act 2003.

Conwy’s licensing committee can opt to revoke the licence completely if it wishes.

Other options include taking no action, modifying the licence, imposing new conditions, excluding a licensable activity from the licence, removing the designated supervisor, and suspending the licence for a period up to three months.

A police report submitted by Insp Kevin Smith of North Wales Police said the pub had been warned about holding under-18s discos in August, following children and teenagers not being accompanied by parents.

15th birthday party

The report then repeatedly referred to a poorly supervised 15th birthday party on 22 September 2023, which resulted in ambulance staff attending to a drunk 13-year-old who lost consciousness.

Police initially believed the child had been spiked. Three children were treated at the scene, two of whom were taken to hospital, but toxicology reports later ruled out spiking.

The police report, though, also raised concerns about children taking cocaine and ketamine.

The report read, “On 22nd September at 19:36 a call was received by North Wales Police from the Welsh Ambulance Service who were at the premises and reported a 13-year-old child had been drinking, was losing consciousness, and that the child may have been spiked.

“It transpired that there had been a birthday party for a 15-year-old girl in the first-floor section of the premises, that it had been an invite-only party, but other children had attended the premises. No parents or legal guardians were in attendance, and only the manager John Dunne and another member of staff were staffing the party.”

CCTV

The report also added that premises licence holder Tania Kendrick was on site. and police suggested CCTV footage indicated she was aware of the party and observed additional children entering the premises through a rear door.

The report went on, “When North Wales Police arrived, it was clarified that three children were in an excessively drunk state and that there was a belief that more children had been drinking. There was concern that children may have also taken cocaine and ketamine.

“It was estimated that there were 50 to 60 children, and due to the number of children in the proximity of the premises, additional police units were requested, and force incident management were made aware that a dispersal order may be required to remove the children from the area.

“Of the three children who were treated by the ambulance service at the scene, two were taken to Ysbyty Glan Clwyd. The possibility of spiking was dismissed by paramedics who were confident that the children were just drunk. This opinion was supported by toxicology results from Ysbyty Glan Clwyd.”

But despite staff claiming children were searched when entering the building, police said CCTV revealed the youngsters had alcohol.

“Children appear to enter and leave the premises of their own volition and are rarely challenged at the point of entry,” said the report.

“Children can be seen bringing in bags and screw top bottles, the content of which may have included alcohol. Dunne can be seen at one point opening a bottle and sniffing the contents before returning it to a child.

“Bottles which had been brought into the premises were passed around as the children congregated in the pool area. Children can be seen stumbling about the premises, and both Kendrick and Dunne can be seen on CCTV yet provide very little if any support to ensure the welfare of the children.

“The CCTV shows Dunne emptying the premises, and those children who had been drinking being helped from the premises by their friends where they then proceed to lie on the bench and floor outside until members of the public who are passing by intervene. Dunne can be seen but does not appear to be managing the situation.”

Complaint

The report added, “On 24 September North Wales Police received a complaint from a parent whose child attended the party. The parent claimed that the children were kicked out of the party early, and that their daughter had disclosed that at the party were drugs and alcohol.

“Additionally, it was alleged that a child had a knife and knuckleduster in their possession. The complainant also stated that children were made to use the back door and then subsequently made allegations against Dunne.”

Police also received a complaint about the pub from a neighbouring business, claiming the pub’s anti-social behaviour was having a negative impact on their business.

North Wales Police have requested that the committee consider a full revocation of the premises.

If the committee seek lesser measures, police have requested that the committee consider removing Tania Kendrick as the designated premises supervisor.

A range of other new conditions, including closure at 11 pm and children being banned from entry, have also been suggested by police.

Whilst the premises licence holders are Liverpool-based EJ Entertainment Limited, the site’s operations director is employed by Group 147. But according to the report, the pub’s manager John Dunne told Conwy’s licensing officers that he and staff were employed by Sinic Ltd.

Consequently, licensing officers have concerns whether appropriate management processes and structures are in place to meet licensing objectives.

The hearing takes place on Friday.


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