Couple will fight to get bar reopened - but police will ‘strongly oppose’ it
PUBLISHED: 12:00 20 August 2012
POLICE ‘strongly oppose’ the reopening of a bar which they say was home to assaults on women, cocaine dealing and an attack which left a man with life-threatening injuries.
The litany of crimes and drug offences are revealed in Avon and Somerset Constabulary documents outlining the force’s objection to Kashmira and Wendy Johal’s latest application to reopen Hotshotz after its licence was revoked last year.
Police received letters of thanks when the bar closed, according to the documents.
But joint applicant Wendy Johal this week defended the bar and vowed to fight to have it reopened.
Mrs Johal said: “The area is dead as a doornail and everybody is complaining about how quiet it has been since it has been closed.
“People come down from all over to come to Hotshotz and have been coming for years.”
She added that criminal charges initially levelled against Mr Johal had been dropped, and said: “We went to Bristol Crown Court and all charges have been dropped. There were no charges (upheld) whatsoever. The judge told us to get on with our lives.
“The whole thing has just been a total mess. We have had 10 months of hell for nothing, we have been closed for 10 months, had our lives turned upside down for 10 months, for nothing at all.”
Responding to police figures showing a drop in crime since the bar’s closure, she added: “There was never anybody who felt uneasy around the pub or didn’t feel welcome.”
She also said meetings she and Mr Johal have held with police had been ‘very positive’, adding ‘we can’t understand why it was closed’.
Mrs Johal also said there had been no problems in the couple’s other nearby bar Corner House, and stressed that anyone who had been doing anything illegal at Hotshotz has been sent to prison or barred.
Mrs Johal said: “Once they are barred, they are barred for life. We have a very strict policy.”
And Mrs Johal added: “We will fight until Hotshotz is back. If it’s rejected, we will take it higher.”
Police have submitted a raft of documents in opposition to the bar’s reopening.
Among them is a report revealing how undercover police operations at Hotshotz resulted in several incidents of dealers selling cocaine to officers.
The documents also revealed the number of incidents in a 50-metre radius around the bar has dropped 60 per cent in the eight months since it was closed.
Jeffrey Foreman, Police District Operations Manager, said in a statement: “I strongly oppose the application for the grant of a premises licence as I have significant and substantial concerns about the likely effect of the grant of the premises licence on the promotion of The Licensing Objectives.”
In a second statement, he said: “Since the premises licence was surrendered and the premises closed, North Somerset police have received several letters of thanks from members of the public, who felt this action had resulted in a significant increase in the quality of life surrounding the premises.”
He also said that between May 1 and November 13 last year, 28 crimes occurred in Hotshotz – “ranging from theft to threats to kill as well as 12 assaults – “one of which was of an extremely serious nature which could have life-changing consequences for the victim.”
Other crime reports attached to the police submissions described how a man threatened to kill and poured petrol around and on another occasion, a man was punched to the ground and left with ‘serious life changing injuries’.
The list also details women being assaulted on five occasions.
A police scan for drugs with a specialised drug detection machine conducted on November 16, 2011, showed microscopic evidence of cocaine.
The statement attached to the report said there was ‘heavy contamination’ in the toilets, with the bar contaminated to a much lesser extent.
But North Somerset Council has received more than 10 letters of support from businesses and residents which outlined that Mr and Mrs Johal were ‘friendly’ and ‘helpful’ members of the community and said it is a ‘shame’ the bar had shut.
The application is set to be heard on August 23 by the council’s licensing sub-committee.
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