Bar must clean up act or owners could face jail
- Credit: Archant
OWNERS of a Weston bar could face jail if they do not do more to make the venue safe, prevent underage drinking, drug taking and other criminal activity.
The Mu family, who own and run Dragon Kiss, must make vast improvements immediately after strict conditions were added to its licence.
The discovery of drug traces on the food counter in September plus incidents in the past two years including a man having his ear bitten off and customers having sex in the kitchen, have prompted North Somerset Council and the police to act.
New restrictions on the bar, in Regent Street, include forcing drinks to be served in plastic cups and no entry or re-entry in the final two hours - with the exception of smokers.
Cllr Elfan Ap Rees, who was chairing the licensing sub-committee meeting said: “We obviously want to see a successful night-time economy in Weston but we aren’t satisfied the clients (Mu family) have sufficiently proven they are working towards a definitive solution - for example, their lack of co-operation with Pubwatch, council health and safety teams and with the police.
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“We believe there are serious risks relating to crime and disorder, public safety hazards as well as the risk of underage drinking.”
The venue has been dogged by issues and closely monitored by Avon and Somerset Constabulary in recent years, culminating in Monday’s meeting at the Town Hall.
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Incidents reported to the police include people as young as 16 drinking and taking drugs, a customer carrying a large knife, thefts, several fights and a girlfriend hitting her boyfriend with a glass bottle.
Police swab tests found traces of class A drugs at various spots, including cocaine in the public and staff toilets, on the food counter plus heroin in the ladies’ bathroom. Toilet attendants have since been employed to carry out spot checks.
Twelve conditions were issued to the bar owners including improving CCTV cameras, getting independent door staff to man the premises after 10pm and only diners at the restaurant being allowed to receive glass bottles of wine or champagne.
The bar must also challenge anyone who looks to be under the age of 25 before allowing them into the premises or serving them alcohol.
Chief Inspector Alex Cohen believes the conditions will reduce the problems, if not solve them.
He said: “I think there is a real chance we will have further issues at Dragon Kiss.
“But I want to be fair and give them a chance to adhere to the conditions. If they adhere to them, there will be a significant reduction in problems.
“You are never going to have venues where there are no incidents.”
The police and the Mu family had agreed a series of conditions although the council felt they did not go far enough.
Better security cameras have been installed although the council committee asked for changes to be made to prevent any blind spots where CCTV cannot pick up what is happening.
The Mu family must also join the local Pubwatch scheme where owners discuss which known trouble-makers should be banned. A Dragon Kiss representative has been to the last two meetings.
The two-hour no re-entry policy will be reviewed in six months time because both the police and the owners suggested a 90-minute condition would be sufficient in stopping very drunk people entering the bar late at night.
Dragon Kiss manager Ashley Swan, recently appointed by the Mu family, said: “A lot of the incidents attributed to Dragon Kiss are nothing to do with the premises.
“They happen in Regent Street, often close to Dragon Kiss, but actually have nothing to do with us.
“I am sure when reports are made people say they are happening at Dragon Kiss because we are the most visible and best-known premises on the street.”
The bar has 21 days to lodge an appeal otherwise the owners would be liable if they fail to comply with the conditions. A failure to adhere to them could see the owners fined or even facing a jail sentence.