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Macs bar: Why its licence was revoked by councillors

Posted on - 29th July, 2015 - 4:18pm | Author - | Posted in - Crime, News, Nightlife, Preston City Centre
Macs bar remains closed

Macs bar reopened on Saturday 25 July after being closed for nearly two months

The reasons why councillors decided to strip Macs bar of its licence to sell alcohol have been revealed.

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Preston City Council has released detailed minutes of the licensing hearing and the committee’s fears “mismanagement” of the venue would return if they were given one more chance.

Macs bar, in Friargate, reopened on Saturday night with its director Andrew Macdonald vowing to appeal the decision of the city council.

Documents show councillors were unimpressed by statements from Mr Macdonald and his current manager Colin Harper and former manager Andy Davies, during the two-day hearing. It has taken the city council nearly two weeks to release the decision notice.

They state during a 40-page document on their decision: “Andrew Macdonald’s evidence crystallised for us the poor attitude deployed by Macs towards the promotion of the licence objectives.

“We find that he repeatedly permitted under age customers entrance to the bar without being made subject to an identification check.”

The key issues

Five key issues were identified by councillors as their reason for stripping Macs of its licence:

– the frequency admission of underage customers
– the breakdown in partnership between Macs and the police
– an ineffective deployment and utilisation of door staff
– an ineffective dispersal policy
– excessive intoxication

Councillors said “we are satisfied that the police have gone out of their way to give the management at Macs opportunities to reform, over many months. We accept PC Stewart’s evidence that the management will comply for a short time then lapse.”

“Evidence from the door staff called on behalf of the police was also helpful in deciding that Macs is mismanaged. We are mindful of the attacks made by Macs on the credibility and reliability of evidence from these witnesses, but having listened carefully to them giving evidence we do not accept that their evidence has been tained or manufactured by what Mr Day (Macs solicitor) referred to as a ‘grievance against Macs’. We not find that there is any grievance against Macs – in reality the mismanagement of Macs have brought these proceedings entirely upon themselves.”

They go on to provide a damning assessment of Andrew Macdonald’s role as director of the bar.

The decision notice states: “We asked ourselves, having listened carefully to Mr Macdonald and considering Macs written evidence, whether we thought he had taken a responsible attitude in the past and whether he would promote the licensing objectives in the future. The answer was emphatically negative.

“He had little insight into the opportunities given to him by the police to mend his ways, he is still quibbling over the sale of spirits by the bottle and the sale of shots from trays, he had no sensible explanation for walking underage customers past door staff into the bar, he needed a third party to give effect to his promise not to overrule his professional door staff, he did not want to have a relationship with the police and wanted Andy Davies to deal with them on his behalf, and he employed Colin Harper as DPS for months when it must have been obvious to him that he was not up to the job.

“In short, we have no confidence in Andrew Macdonald and are of the view that he should not be in charge of a licensed venue that has as one of its objectives the promotion of the protection of children. We are also of the view that he has not and will not promote the licensing objectives as a whole.”

No confidence in Macs managers

Councillors go on to criticise Colin Harper saying he “failed badly” and had “paid police officers lip service and did not have the promote of public safety in mind at all”.

They dismissed Macs bar’s offer of reinstalling Andy Davies as its designated premises supervisor stating: “Although Andy Davies would be a better DPS than Colin Harper, that would be to set the bar much too low. We are of the view that Andy Davies would not be able to stand up to Andrew Macdonald and would therefore fail to promote the licensing objectives of the protection of children and prevention of crime and disorder.”

Documents released by the city council show councillors considered modifying the conditions of the licence but dismissed it saying it would not solve the problem of mismanagement and saying “we cannot impose a condition that Macs takes a responsible attitude.”

The final decision

Councillor David Hammond, who chaired the meeting, closes the document stating: “We are left with a decision about whether to suspend Mac’s licence or to revoke it. This was a decision over which we have taken some time and care. We are mindful of Mr. Day’s repeated entreaties to us to give Mac’s one more chance, because these proceedings have had a salutary effect. We have considered the wide implications for the community if Mac’s stays open or closes. Our difficulty is that we do not believe that the management at Mac’s will live up to Mr. Day’s words.

“They may abide by their licence conditions for a while, but we are confident they will slip back as they have done time and time again. Therefore, we are satisfied to the necessary standard that the only appropriate, reasonable and proportionate decision for us to take is to revoke Mac’s licence as requested by the Police.”

Macs bar have 21 days to appeal the council’s decision to Preston Magistrates Courts.

Mr Macdonald said on hearing the decision to revoke the licence last week: “We feel a lot of the problems identified by the police are quick fixes. We will appeal this decision.”

What do you make of the council’s decision and their reasons for it? Do you visit Macs bar? Let us know in the comments below

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