Seaside bar loses licence and owner banned

A late-night Brixham bar is considering an appeal after having its license temporarily suspended following police reports of people allegedly brandishing knives, taking and supplying drugs, staff threatening customers and a bar steward allegedly assaulting a drunk customer. Police appealed to Torbay Council’s licensing sub-committee to review the licence of Jackz Bar, on the corner of Bolton Street and Parkham Road opposite Brixham Town Hall. The police asked for 18 new licensing criteria to be imposed – including new CCTV, staff training and random drug searches of customers by door stewards.

The licensing sub-committee not only agreed to these conditions but went further, suspending the licence completely until January. READ MORE: Police hunting mysterious ‘red paint menace’ in Torquay However the owner of Jackz Bar, Ross Hennessey, claimed after the meeting: “This whole charade stems from when I posted a video calling out the police and council officers for having double standards about fining me for not following Covid regulations when they weren’t sticking to them themselves.

“We have not had a single licensing visit since we took over in May. The only time police officers did come to the bar they wrote a report to say that it was being extremely well-run. I have a copy of that report.

“None of the police case is fact. They have taken malicious emails and quoted them as facts.” Special restrictions were placed on owner Ross Hennessey, who police said was not fit to operate the bar.

Ross Hennessey

The council has now prohibited Mr Hennessey from entering the bar during opening hours and said he is not allowed to influence its operation.

Mr Hennessey, who also owns and runs Hennessey Cocktail Lounge on the harbourside, said his lawyer described the move as “Draconian”. Do you think the bar should appeal? Log in and let us know in the comments.

“I don’t even think it’s legal for them to ban me from my own premises. My solicitor has described it as Draconian.” The committee was also told the bar is failing to meet fire safety obligations.

Also new noise restrictions are to be enforced . Police said they have seen CCTV showing people being allowed to enter the pub past the 1am legal deadline for entry. The police also said that CCTV evidence shows bar staff not using face coverings at a time when it was a legal obligation; and said its covid marshall had not been doing their job properly.

Jackz Bar in Brixham has been shut down after police allegations of knives, drugs and assaults

Police say that before Mr Hennessey and Miss Holly Harley took over Jackz in May, crime levels at the bar were at an “acceptable” level, with around three to four recorded every year.

In contrast, they said that three crimes have been recorded in the space of the four months since the pair took over. Get the best stories about the things you love most – curated by us and delivered to your inbox every day. Choose what you love here.

At the licensing meeting, a planning officer said it was very unlikely that the bar, located in a built-up area away from the main high street, would be given a licence if applied for today. They stated there were far fewer restrictions in 2007 when Jackz first got its licence, adding: “What we have here is not fit for purpose. It shouldn’t be a nightclub.

It would struggle to get through the threshold these days.” Attending the licensing review was Ms Stephanie Trust, who works at Jackz and was promoted to a new role as licensee the day before the committee meeting. Police said at the meeting that they suspected that Miss Harley, whose connection with Mr Hennessey is unclear, had been a front for the owner, Mr Hennessey, to run the bar behind the scenes.

The committee questioned whether Ms Trust, drafted in at the last moment, was up to the job of running the bar without Mr Hennessey. Ms Trust’s experience of bar management consisted of working at Jackz on and off for 15 years and holding positions as a general manager at a Lidl supermarket and at a holiday park, the committee was told. In a statement read out at the meeting, Ms Trust denied many of the police’s allegations, saying she had never seen a knife in the bar at any point, that the bar has a zero-tolerance policy for drugs and that the member of staff accused of assaulting a customer was acting in self-defence and no longer works as a doorman at the club.

She said the alleged victim was making “big fat false claims.” Ms Trust can appeal the council’s decision at a magistrates court. If an appeal is made, Torbay Council’s decision on the license will not be enforced until the appeal is settled.

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