A BASINGSTOKE bar faces having its licence suspended for three months after police found its fire doors padlocked shut and traces of cocaine.
Officers visited The Mousetrap, in Basing View, on Friday, April 4 this year following a report of an assault on a man, a council meeting heard.
Once inside, they used drugs swabs in the bar’s toilets and found traces of cocaine and ketamine, and also found that the doors to the only fire exit in the bar had been padlocked shut.
On Monday, the licensing sub-committee at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council decided to suspend the bar’s licence for three months, after Hampshire Constabulary requested a licence review.
However, following the decision, an appeal has been submitted, meaning the bar can operate as normal for 21 days pending the outcome.
Sub-committee chairman Councillor Rita Burgess said the three-person panel had considered revoking the bar’s licence, before deciding on the suspension.
Cllr Burgess said: “This suspension is deemed necessary to reflect the seriousness of the failure by the licence holder and staff by allowing the locking of the fire exit doors on April 4, 2014 and the disregard for the public safety.”
The meeting heard that during a “routine licensing visit” on March 9 this year, officers found traces of cocaine in both the male and female toilets, with the reading indicating the Class A drug had been used “very recently”.
Officers made the second discovery of drug traces when they went to the bar again on April 4 to investigate a report that a man had been assaulted, although PC Claire Wanless, licensing officer for Hampshire Constabulary, told the meeting that the police accepted the man had fallen over outside the bar.
After finding the fire doors padlocked, officers called Ian Bowers, the bar’s licence holder and designated premises supervisor (DPS), who agreed that the bar should close for the night.
Officers also visited on April 11 after reports of a group of men fighting outside the bar and an assault on a bouncer.
PC Wanless told the sub-committee the “damning evidence”, including a report from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, could not be ignored.
She said: “It would appear that Mr Bowers as DPS...has failed to satisfy the police that he is in day-to-day control, and this has given rise to crime and disorder.”
Mr Bowers called the police case “absolutely frivolous”, and said that officers being called to the bar five times in the past two years was “not bad at all”.
He told the sub-committee the doors had been padlocked by mistake by a member of a band after he moved equipment to a vehicle behind the bar, and that changes had been made since, to stop this happening again.
Of the traces of drugs found in the toilets, he said: “We do our utmost to stop it but it’s one of those things that you can never fully stop, and other licensed premises in Basingstoke have a problem with it.”
Mr Bowers added that the police evidence contained a number of errors and said that he had made a complaint about the licensing team to Hampshire Constabulary.
PC Wanless apologised for getting the date of a police visit wrong and for suggesting the bar should close for six months, which the meeting heard is not possible under licensing law.
The sub-committee’s ruling placed new conditions on the bar, including installing a CCTV system, more staff training, and providing the police with written notice when holding an event involving amplified music.