The landlady at the centre of a fierce licensing row has spoken of her relief at being allowed to play live music and serve drinks without food. Judy Wattiez, 53, of the Park View Restaurant had faced strident opposition from 28 residents of neighbouring Margaret Court, who feared it would lead to noise and nuisance.
The listed pub, in Park Road, Herne Bay, was formally the Royal Oak which had a reputation for rowdy behaviour. When the premises were reopened in February as the Park View Restaurant, new manager Miss Wattiez was only allowed to serve drinks with food.
She applied for a dual licence so drinks could be served without food. But that attracted an avalanche of complaints. Then 100 of Miss Wattiez’s customers hit back with a petition complaining that not being able to get a drink at the bar was in breach of their human rights.
Bemused members of the city council’s licensing committee finally gave her what she wanted on Tuesday. Miss Wattiez admitted:
“I’m absolutely over the moon. It’s all I wanted. It’s my home. I don’t want trouble, I’m just really pleased now and hope the neighbours leave me alone. It’s been a struggle but I’m glad it’s finally over and we can crack on with making the business thrive. I’ve done my utmost to engage with neighbours who have had concerns. I even tried to go to a Residents’ Association meeting at Margaret Court but they wouldn’t let me in. I invited them to look inside the restaurant but they declined. I have told them they are welcome to use my premises for their meetings free of charge. We have made every effort but they don’t want to know.”
She has now complied with all conditions demanded by police including installing CCTV and having a doorman for events with more than 60 people. Doors must be closed during live music performances with a note for patrons to leave quietly and a phone number on a board for residents. However, one pensioner living nearby who did not want to be named, said:
“It’s horrible. I can’t believe they got it after all the complaints. I’m utterly shocked. The whole process has been derisory!”
The licence change means live music can be played from noon to 11.30pm up to three times a week, excluding Sundays. Dancing will also be allowed. Janine Collopy, a pensioner from Margaret Court, said many of her fellow residents’ concerns were unfounded. She said:
“Most of the noise is nothing to do with the pub. It’s youngsters coming back from the park and making a racket, using all sorts of foul language. People have even complained about plastic beer cups being dropped all over the place when the pub doesn’t use plastic cups. It’s just been plain silly. Judy should be given a chance. I’m glad she has been.”
Miss Wattiez had applied to the city council in March but was turned down after objections from neighbours.
HB Times 30th Jun 2011