Chalkwell bar forced to close ahead of licensing hearing after one complaint

A Southend wine bar was forced to close for almost a month after just one resident complained about its licensing application, it has been revealed.

Bosses at the Cork Dork, in The Ridgeway, Chalkwell, pleaded with Southend City Council’s licensing committee yesterday to give its application the green light as a matter or urgency so they can get back to business.

The wine bar – which serves more than 100 different wines – had to apply for a new premises licence after a “clerical error” on a previously approved licence application.

Laws say if one objection is made to an application, the matter must be decided by committee and the bar closed its doors while it waited for a decision.

Owner Benedict Hurley attended a meeting of Southend Council’s licensing sub committee to defend his application.

He said: “I reapplied for my licence due to a clerical error and on my re-application there was a representation from a neighbour.

“I’m baffled I’m even here today. I’ve been open for a year now and when I was here last there were 21 representations against us, the main one being Chalkwell Residents’ Association.

“The licence was still granted. My main concern is a year later, due to a clerical error, I’m reapplying with a single representation from the 29.”

Mr Hurley handed councillors on the licensing committee folders containing copies of more than 50 emails sent in support of his licence, including from the residents’ association.

After hearing it could be up to five days before he obtained the result of the hearing, Mr Hurley pleaded with the committee to make their decision known as soon as possible.

He said: “Unfortunately I had to close the business for three and a half weeks waiting for today. It’s put a lot of the staff out of work, including myself.”

Council officer Tim Rowe said he would do all he could to expedite the results.

Mr Hurley did not disclose what the clerical error was that prompted the re-application. However, a report to the committee said a previous premises licence lapsed due to the company that held the licence being dissolved.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Hurley said: “It’s been an absolute nightmare for me. They originally told me they could squeeze me in over the weekend but it took three-and-a-half weeks. I’ve lost all my staff over it. They had to go elsewhere. I’ll be closed another weekend now all because of a crazy complaint.”

“I’ve got a few staff lined up but they won’t be the ones I had. We have 104 wines. That’s quite a lot of wines to learn.”


Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter