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Sunday, 17 March 2013

Licensing & the bar - an appeal for your help

We have been a little more strict recently on enforcing the rules that alcoholic drinks that were not bought at the bar may not be consumed in the bar, Bell Room, or garden at certain times.

The Connaught Hall Supplementary Regulations state:
12.2 Only alcoholic beverages that have been purchased from the bar may be consumed in the bar, courtyard garden, and Bell Room between the hours of 19.00 and 23.00.

This rule is necessary to help us uphold our obligations under the Licensing Act 2003.

The reason we have tightened up recently is that a large number of trangressions of this rule were reported in the past few weeks, indicating that our reliance on residents' self-regulation was inadequate and that more rigorous enforcement was required.

As with any increased rule enforcement, this move has not been without critics. To those who are unhappy about this rule and the fact that it is now being enforced more stringently by bar staff and Senior Members, I should like to explain why it is so important - please scroll down below the sign to find out more...

I see our bar as an enormous asset for the Hall. It is a social hub and a venue that makes it possible for us to host parties that most other halls cannot contend with. I think our bar is one of the reasons that Connaught Hall is regarded as being amongst the most social halls of residence in London.

The fact that our bar is managed and staffed by students for the Residents' Club Committee gives it a sense of informality, familiarity, and homeliness; these are some of our bar's best attributes. But it is still a "real" bar, with a licence, subject to very strict controls under the Licensing Act 2003. Since the Act came into force in 2005, we have been inspected - without any advance notice - by the police and/or local authority licensing inspectors on average once every 18 months. If on one of these inspections we are found to be breaching the terms of our licence, we could be fined up to £20,000 or lose our licence altogether. The Club doesn't have £20,000, so either penalty would result in the permanent closure of our bar.

All eight intercollegiate halls used to have a bar. In the last few years, six of them have been shut down. Of the two left, one is open only a few times a month; ours is the only proper bar left.

So, in enforcing these rules that help us to do what the Licensing Act tells us we must do, my aim is to protect and preserve our bar now and for the future. My hope is not to kill the community atmosphere of the bar, or put a downer on everyone's enjoyment of that space: my goal is to ensure that current and future residents continue to have a bar that is a vibrant and friendly hub for our Hall community.

I hope all residents can share my aspiration and help us work towards it.