Council stands by action against Bedfords bar over Covid breach

A screenshot from the video which contributed to Norwich bar Bedfords' licence review.

A screenshot from the video which contributed to Norwich bar Bedfords' licence review. - Credit: Submitted

Norwich City Council has defended its decision to take enforcement action over a breach of social distancing rules – and vowed to take action again if it happens again.

Bedfords bar in Old Post Office Yard Norwich was stripped of its licence by the authority's licensing committee, as a result of an incident in November, the day before the country went into its second national lockdown.

Around 30 people were standing up in the bar singing, dancing and hugging despite strict social distancing requirements – all of which was caught on camera.

The decision was partly overturned on appeal at Norwich Magistrates' Court this week, when Adam Greenwood, chairman of the bench, said that it would be disproportionate to strip the venue of its licence.

Instead Bedfords has been handed an eight week suspension of its licence, which will lift in August, and has also been ordered to have CCTV in operation which can be made available to police and the licensing authority.

In a statement, Norwich City Council said it has accepted that owner Glen Carr can continue to operate once the temporary suspension has lifted.

But it added it would continue to take enforcement action against any licensee which fails to comply with the rules.

The council said: "The vast majority of licensed premises in the city have worked extremely hard to operate safely and within the ever-changing Covid-19 restrictions.

"We completely understand the impact these restrictions have had on everyone, but there remains a requirement to comply with them to protect Norwich and keep everyone as safe as possible.

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"We are pleased this matter has now concluded and thank the Justices for their comments and decision.

"Taking any enforcement action is never something we go into lightly, but failure to comply with the appropriate regulations will have consequences.

"We stand by the actions we took but accept that Mr Carr and Bedfords may continue to operate following the suspension.

"We will continue to work closely with local businesses and establishments to support them in these difficult and challenging times."