Bognor Regis bar TAO has 21 days to serve five-day premises licence suspension

TAO in Bognor. Pic Steve Robards SR18001239 SUS-180401-173223001
TAO in Bognor. Pic Steve Robards SR18001239 SUS-180401-173223001

A popular Bognor Regis bar has had its premises licence suspended for five days after breaching its conditions.

Daniel Slade, who owns TAO in the High Street, is set to hand over the day-to-day running to Luke Noble, who would become the new manager and designed premises supervisor.

TAO has confirmed it will remain open this weekend as it has 21 days to serve its suspension.

A first licensing review of the venue was heard by Arun district councillors in May where they decided to amend the terms of the licence and required Mr Slade to meet outstanding conditions.

A licensing sub-committee meeting convened to consider a second review today (Friday September 28), heard that some of these had still not been met.

As a result councillors decided to suspend TAO’s licence for five days to allow the new management regime to work towards meeting the outstanding conditions and obligations.

Andy Cooper, who chaired the sub-committee, told Mr Slade: “I hope you understand where you are today. We want you to grab this with both hands, move your business forward and if Mr Noble is the right person then get him on board and move quickly to establish the bar where it should be.”

His barrister James Rankin progress was being made with outstanding paperwork submitted to the council albeit only in the last week.

He added: “Mr Slade has put his hands up and finally admitted defeat and he has done a brave thing and handed the reins over to Mr Noble. I accept it happened at the last moment.”

Mr Slade himself said: “I’m stepping back from running the business because I have not done a good enough job at doing it.”

According to officers, alongside non-compliance with conditions the council had received complaints about noise and disturbance, abusive language emanating from the venue, while management and staff had exhibited a lack of control of customers.

Barrister Peter Saville, speaking for the council, said: “Mr Slade has had a period of four months. He has failed to operate responsibly.”

He suggested a period of suspension would be appropriate as Mr Slade had ‘effectively ignored the determination of the sub-committee’.

Meanwhile David Bateup, a licensing officer for Sussex Police, said: “We simply can’t have a situation where the premises licence holder has to be brought at great expense before a licensing committee every time that responsible authority wants them to adhere to their licensing conditions.”

He added: “We have a rushed job at the 11th hour in response to the review hearing.”

An out-of-hours consultant working for the council described how on June 29 she observed a large group of people gathered outside the premises with no staff taking responsibility, while later in the night a group of women took turns to be pushed down the street sitting in an abandoned swivel chair.

Meanwhile on July 3, the day of the England-Columbia World Cup match, she observed loud amplified music coming out of TAO.

Another incident where a large conga line of people went in and out of the bar after England had beaten Panama was discussed at the committee meeting.

Mr Slade said he had led the conga to try and ‘defuse’ the excitement of around 250 people but pointed out it had involved children and parents and had only lasted for 20 seconds.

Mr Rankin said: “He knows he has fallen far short of what was expected by this licensing committee.”

Mr Noble, who has a long history in the licensing and hospitality trades, said: “I think the key is rebuilding these bridges. There definitely seems to be a breakdown of communication.

“There’s a lot of things that need to be done and evidence given.”