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BIRMINGHAM: Venue boss denies intimidation accusations

BIRMINGHAM: Venue boss denies intimidation accusations

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A “nice gentle vegan” has denied accusations of intimidating residents in order to get a booze licence for his Birmingham venue.

Richard Hanlon is looking to secure a premises licence to allow him to sell alcohol during events at Xover Spaces, based in a former church in George Street.

The proposal prompted strong objections from neighbouring businesses and residents including concerns over noise, parking issues and the fact the venue is near a school and church.

Balsall Heath West ward councillor Zhor Malik represented residents at Wednesday’s (November 17) licensing sub committee claiming the objectors felt too intimidated to do so themselves.

But barrister Duncan Craig dismissed the suggestion as “laughable” and described Mr Hanlon as a nice, gentle man who is also a vegan.

Mr Craig also said the representations from eight objectors contained false claims against his client and were all the same.

Councillor Malik said events had already been held at Xover and residents had captured CCTV and audio recordings to demonstrate the noise issue.

He said: “The only reason I’m here today is because the people around the vicinity (of the venue) felt intimidated.

“One of the objections is it is still registered as a church on the land registry and not aware of any planning applications to change the use of the premises.

“I’ve been informed events have been taking place. Some of the residents have recordings of  a party going on and music playing.

“The level of noise was causing problems for some of the businesses who operate there. There are residential houses and the noise levels were shocking.

“There is a school that operates seven days a week which is only 20 metres away and a church which has funerals and weddings. The concern there is having alcohol premises will cause a big disruption.

“On George Street there is a shop called Amex Wines and then the Clock pub is down the bottom. There are enough places selling alcohol there.

“Multiple residents had issues getting into their drives. There is a parking issue on the road so what we don’t want to do is exacerbate the problem.”

Mr Craig said the licence would only permit sale of alcohol until 11pm and added conditions had been agreed with the police.

He added he had written to the objectors to invite them to meet him at the venue to discuss concerns and see if they could be allayed – but no one took up the offer.

Mr Craig said: “My client is not here to upset anybody. He has a business where he is looking to put small events on and doesn’t want to upset anyone locally.

“He has made that clear from the outset and also said he has very good relations with local neighbours in general.

“I was struck by the nature of the representations in terms of the addresses on them, the fact there was an absence of emails, they were all identical, carried the same hallmarks – they were all the same, frankly.

“There are a number of false statements within these representations, a number of misconceptions and some wholly irrelevant.

“They’ve had a kid’s party and a yoga launch and that’s all he’s had on. All these suggestions there are raves and rock concerts is simply not true.

“You have a local councillor happy to associate himself with this shambolic, embarrassing representation which is incoherent, poorly put together, misconceived and frankly misleading.

“My client absolutely denies any suggestion he is involved in any intimidation of anybody.

“He is a vegan. Vegans aren’t generally known for their truculence but I suppose that is not a hard and fast rule.

“But certainly, based on my dealings with him, any suggestion this gentle nice man would in any way ever intimidate anybody is preposterous and laughable.

“These representations are vexatious and have no substance, full of false statements and misconceived.”

Licensing sub committee members are considering the application and a decision will be made in the coming days.

Words: Gurdip Thandi, Local Democracy Reporter

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