Billericay pub keeps licence after ‘soiree’ got out of hand

A pub in Billericay has been told it can keep its licence in light of a review following a “soiree” that ballooned to a party with as many as 3,000 revellers.

Police were called by residents after hundreds of people unexpectedly turned up for an “out-of-control soiree” at the Beauvoir Arms, in Downham Road, Downham, near Ramsden Heath.

Essex Police subsequently submitted an application to review the licence following the event on August 2, in which officers said they witnessed staff organisers and revellers in possession of cannabis.

The pub, which said that the event was designed as a soiree-style garden party for no more than 200 people, has apologised for the event it admits did “get out of hand”.

However, Essex Police said that the event had actually been planned for 600 in an unlicensed area, but then there were unconfirmed reports of 2,000 to 3,000 people attending.

Moreover, police said the event resulted in obstructions to residents’ driveways, anti-social behaviour from attendees and breaches of Covid-19 regulations. No prior application was received to allow the event to go ahead.

To make matters worse, despite promises made to police officers by the organisers of the event to not allow any more persons into the party and to shut down at 8pm, it was still going with people still arriving at 10.30pm, according to police.

Essex Police said the event organiser was “very obstructive and gave officers false details”.

Organisers, staff and attendees were also witnessed to be in possession of cannabis and people were seen jumping a picket fence to get into the marquee.

Bosses at the Beauvoir Arms, who hosted the promoted event, have now apologised for the event getting out-of-hand, telling the committee that an associate had asked to use the outside space at the premises for a small family party with no alcohol involved, but that he had been “duped” by the promoter.

A statement as part of the decision from Chelmsford City Council, said three licensing objectives – crime and disorder, public nuisance and public safety – had been “seriously undermined”.

“There had been a large-scale outbreak of disorder requiring a redeployment of police resources in order to respond,” added the statement.

“Several local residents had been subjected to verbal abuse – and, in one instance, physical assault – when they sought to challenge inconsiderate parking and anti-social behaviour by patrons.

“There had been cannabis use throughout the event. There had also been a woeful failure to implement/enforce social distancing measures, thereby increasing the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

“Local residents had suffered noise nuisance (e.g. loud music) in addition to other incidents of anti-social behaviour. They had, as the police aptly put it at the hearing, had a “horrible time”.”

The statement added: “Whilst this had been a one-off incident and (in the committee’s view) unintended and unenvisaged by the licence holder/management, the committee considered that because of the large scale disorder that had taken place the issue of whether it was appropriate for the promotion of the licensing objectives to revoke the licence was a finely balanced one.

“Having regard to all the circumstances, however, the committee took the view that with the steps set out, together with the licence-holder’s assurances, a recurrence of the incidents which had triggered the review was unlikely.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter