OPERATORS of a Bognor Regis restaurant are challenging a decision to close it down.
Sean Parker and Rachel Searle have appealed against the revocation of the premises licence for SeaFish agreed by Arun District Council.
Speaking outside the hearing on Wednesday afternoon, venue managing director Mr Parker said: “We accept the council’s decision but we are going to appeal it because we have our points and we thought there was a lot of one-sided evidence in the hearing.”
Mrs Searle, the premises’ supervisor, said she expected the appeal to be lodged in the next few days.
“We want to continue working with the council to find a licence which is the best fit for our premises. We are at SeaFish because we want Bognor to be bit more of a cultural place,” she said.
Mr Parker and Ms Searle have 21 days in which to appeal. If they do, they can continue to run their business in line with its existing licence until their case is heard.
The decision to revoke the premises licence for the Aldwick Road business was made after a four-hear hearing of Arun’s licensing committee.
Chairman Cllr John Charles told the meeting: “The members accepted that both the police and the council had been unable to meaningfully engage with the management because they were unable to accept advice.
“The members accepted, on balance, that police and council had no confidence in the management of the premises to meet the licensing objectives.”
The premises had originally been licensed as a restaurant and subject to conditions which restricted the sale of alcohol to accompany meals.
The business changed hands last summer and became a more music-led venue but was still subject to the original conditions.
Sussex Police’s head of licensing and public safety, Jean Irvine, said officers had visited the premises several times and seen customers drinking without eating. This was shown on videos from body-worn cameras of two police officers.
“We do not have any confidence in the management of this venue. Revocation of the licence is a draconian step. But maybe this needs a clean slate – apply for a new licence as a live music venue and, if it goes through, run it as that licence.”
Sarah Meeten, Arun’s head of licensing, said: “This about is a lack of co-operation and suitability of these premises for us.
“Are these people capable of operating these premises in a way in which they uphold the conditions and working with licensing officers?
“We have had verbal reassurances but no evidence they have been acted upon and the issues at the premises remain.”
Noise from the venue’s live music had also been a problem for some neighbours.