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Council publishes summary decision behind suspension of premises licence for restaurant that hosted Rita Ora birthday party during lockdown

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea has issued its summary decision that saw a six-week suspension of the premises licence for the restaurant in Notting Hill where Rita Ora held a birthday party for 17 persons during the second national lockdown and in breach of Coronavirus regulations.

The Licensing Sub-Committee at the Royal Borough also decided to modify the existing licence for Caza Cruz, by adding a series of conditions.

These included that the former designated premises supervisor (DPS) should not be permitted to enter or remain on the licensed premises at any time. “Nor shall he be employed by, or act on behalf of the Premises or the Premises Licence Holder in any capacity whatsoever whether directly or indirectly or provide any services for the Premises (directly or indirectly and whether for reward or otherwise).”

The company has also been required to submit a noise dispersal and external management plan to the Royal Borough’s Environmental Health Department, the licensing authority and the police for consultation within 7 days from the date of the hearing.

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It also offered to keep an incident log at the premises and make it available on request to an authorised officer of the council or the Police.

The review was requested by the Metropolitan Police, who sought revocation of the premises licence on the grounds of the prevention of crime and disorder and the prevention of public nuisance licensing objectives.

The premises had also refused entry to the police investigating the incident and turned off its CCTV before the party started and was unable to produce any CCTV recordings for the 31 day period prior to the incident, in breach of the conditions of its licence.

The licensing authority and Environmental Health had supported the review application.

Charles Holland of Francis Taylor Building appeared for the Met Police, while Gary Grant from the same chambers appeared for Casa Cruz London Limited, the premises licence holder.

Mr Grant told the sub-committee that the company unequivocally and unconditionally condemned the incident. He contended that this was caused by the manager and DPS, acting alone, in allowing the event to take place.

The sub-committee was told that the premises had arranged to supply food to the celebrity’s home. However, when paparazzi gathered outside her home, her representative asked the DPS whether the party could take place at the restaurant. The DPS was said to have made “a spur of the moment decision” to allow the party to take place and agreed to switch off the CCTV.

The sole director of the company was stated to have not known, until after the event, that the DPS had agreed to host the event.

The sub-committee received 44 representations from local residents supporting the restaurant, including one from a ward councillor. It noted that it did not receive any representations from residents supporting the revocation of the licence.

The sub-committee concluded that the police were right to apply for the review and it seriously considered revoking the licence.

It said that the DPS was responsible for day-to-day management of the restaurant, but that did not absolve the director from responsibility. He should have ensured that the restaurant was complying both with the COVID-19 Regulations and the conditions on its licence, despite his assertion that the DPS was acting alone.

The sub-committee also recognised, amongst other things, that the police accepted that this would appear to have been an isolated incident; the DPS had been replaced; and a number of conditions had been agreed to.

“Furthermore, this was the first time this licence has been reviewed; there have been no substantive issues raised by local residents in the last two years which have not been addressed by the operators who were receptive to residential concerns. Further, the residents supporting the restaurant, living above and adjacent to the premises regarded the restaurant to be an improvement on the previous licensed premises, and some felt its very existence made the streets safer and they were keen that the licence was not revoked,” the summary decision said.

The sub-committee also considered it to be unusual on a review, not to have one local resident complaining about the premises, whereas here 44 residents were supporting it. The venue also provided employment opportunities, including to some local residents.

The sub-committee decided therefore to suspend the premises licence for a period of six weeks from the date the full reasoned decision, which would be circulated to all parties as soon as possible, comes into effect. It also modified the existing licence by adding certain conditions.

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