South Gloucestershire councillors have recently greenlit an extension to the alcohol license of Hawkesbury Upton Village Hall, permitting the sale of alcohol until 12:30 am on Fridays and Saturdays for private events and parties. The approval includes a condition limiting the extended hours to a maximum of 12 times a year.
This decision has sparked concerns among some residents who fear disturbances from late-night revelry. A resident, choosing to remain unidentified and absent from the meeting, expressed worries in a statement, stating, “While we accept and are willing to endure the existing noise and disturbance originating from the hall up to 11 pm — which inevitably extends until 12 am or 12:30 am, allowing for people leaving the premises — we are extremely concerned about the license being extended to 12:30 am. This will result in noise and disturbance taking place as late as 1:30 am and longer, especially with an additional hour of alcohol consumption likely leading to more disturbance.”
Volunteers managing Hawkesbury Upton Village Hall presented their case to the South Gloucestershire Council licensing sub-committee. During the hearing on Monday, January 9, they explained that the extended hours were essential for the venue’s survival. Without these additional hours, the venue faced imminent closure due to financial constraints.
The volunteers emphasized that the main objective behind the extension was to reduce costs and ease the workload for those who volunteer to run the centre on High Street. By eliminating the need for individual applications for temporary event notices (TENs) for each late-night event, the village hall could streamline operations and secure its financial stability.
A representative from the village hall informed the committee about lost bookings due to uncertainties surrounding the approval of TENs. A permanent extension of the premises license for weekends would eliminate such uncertainties, ensuring smoother planning and execution of events.
“We have no intention of increasing the special events we have in the hall by any significant number – we don’t have the capacity, time-wise, to do that. There is no agenda here to make this a regular event,” assured the representative. “The important thing for us is to take away the cost and workload of making these applications.”
Financial challenges faced by the village hall were openly discussed during the hearing. Operating at a yearly deficit of £9,000 against the income generated from standing bookings, the venue plays a crucial role in the community. Hosting various sports and activity groups, it serves as a hub for events ranging from weddings to toddlers’ activities, karate, pensioner gatherings, and Women’s Institute meetings.
“The hall costs us £20,000 a year to operate and maintain, so the only way the hall can survive financially is to hold additional events such as weddings, private birthday parties, and social events such as the local cricket club presentation evening. Without them, we would have to close, which would be a huge detriment to the parish, given that we are a rural community and people rely on the hall for everything from dance to toddlers to karate to pensioners to the WI,” the representative emphasized.
In response to concerns raised by residents, the sub-committee addressed the issue by approving the license extension with the inclusion of a condition limiting the late-night hours to 12 times a year. This compromise aims to strike a balance between the village hall’s financial needs and the residents’ desire for peace and quiet during the late hours.
The village hall representative expressed willingness to adhere to the restriction, stating, “If it helps our application, we would be happy if we were restricted to the number of times we could have that extension. If we could use it 10 times a year, that would be the maximum.”
The decision reflects the delicate balancing act faced by communities in maintaining local services’ financial viability while considering the impact on residents’ quality of life. The compromise reached in this case strives to accommodate both the needs of the village hall and the concerns of residents, ensuring a harmonious coexistence in Hawkesbury Upton.