‘Noisy nightclub’ fears as former troubled pub bids for late-night music

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Fusion Inn
The former Fusion Inn has been relaunched by its new owners as the Sail Inn

POLICE will fight a licence bid by owners of a new Lymington pub amid local residents’ claims it will become a “noisy nightclub” leading to  drunkenness and crime.

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As The Fusion Inn, the premises in Queen Street was the subject of numerous complaints about noise, public disorder and drunken behaviour.

It has been closed for three years, but is now set to open as The Sail Inn with a new landlord.

Owner Star Pubs and Bars Ltd wants restrictions on the entertainment licence lifted so recorded music and live bands would be allowed until midnight.

Residents living near the pub have reacted furiously to the application submitted to New Forest District Council’s licensing sub-committee, claiming their lives would be made a “total misery”.

A total of 46 objections to the proposal, which is due to go before a committee meeting on Monday, were sparked, along with representations from Hampshire police and NFDC’s environmental health department.

One resident claimed the application “indicates that the pub will be licensed as a disco and for late night pop concerts. This is totally ludicrous and would cause public nuisance, encourage crime and cause damage to locals’ mental and physical wellbeing.”

Another objector, who lives in Roundhouse Mews, also blasted the bid, saying: “If the history of the premises is anything to go by it will bring noise and drunkenness to a very built-up area.”

They revealed how, when the pub was The Fusion Inn, they suffered “drunks relieving themselves across from the pub”, adding: “On one occasion I disturbed a couple having sex on the grass outside the pub! The music has been deafening and altogether this type of pub is totally out of character in this area.”

Other neighbours warned of late-night drinkers being “attracted” to the pub, resulting in “fighting in the early morning and vomiting on the pavements”

Star Pubs and Bars Ltd has applied for several conditions imposed on The Fusion Inn in 2015 by the licensing sub-committee to be lifted.

Presently live music is only allowed twice a week, and recorded music every other Saturday. The new owner wants permission to play music between 10am and 11pm Sunday to Thursday, and 10am to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

It is not, however, seeking any changes to the current drinks licence, which allows the serving of alcohol until midnight Sunday to Thursday and 2am Fridays and Saturdays.

Hampshire police are objecting to proposed changes to the entertainment licence, saying the pub would “default to being the end-of-destination venue” for customers, thereby causing noise nuisance.

They say disturbance would be caused by revellers being refused entry due to being drunk, customers being “ejected” and refusing to leave, and drinkers using the smoking area and leaving the pub at the end of the night.

Officers said during The Fusion Inn’s last year of trading in 2016 there was a “considerable drop in standards, increasing crime and public nuisance”.

They said there was regular contact with managers at the premises over ways to address problems impacting local residents. One solution was restricting the last entry time from midnight to 11.30pm from midnight and reducing the number of customers outside.

After The Fusion Inn closed, the police say regulars moved to a nearby pub which at the time had a late-night licence with no conditions. When problems began to occur at that premises, the landlord imposed last orders at midnight.

Asking for the new entertainment hours to be rejected, the force stated: “A late-trading premises licence holder in Lymington must have strong conditions in place and a robust management to enforce these conditions.”

It wants current restrictions, which include strict last entry and re-entry times, control over consumption of alcohol after 11pm and an age-verification policy, to remain in place. It is also calling for staff to remain “active” in dispersal and noise prevention.

Included in its objections were copies of log entries dating from 2016 when officers were called to what was then The Fusion Inn, detailing numerous incidents of drunken behaviour and noise nuisance.

In one, a PC reported: “Unfortunately, there may be some complaints of noise from the neighbours of the Fusion, and from what I witnessed tonight at least, the complaints will be totally justified.”

In another, an officer told how he had to deal with a pubgoer who had “head butted” the manager.

NFDC’s environmental health department is also opposed to the changes, pointing out that the pub has a “considerable history of issues” surrounding noise and had been served several abatement notices in the past.

They say it is “not suitable for regular late night, live or recorded music.”

Earlier this year, the owners of The Sail Inn told the A&T they planned to give it a £250,000 makeover and open it as a “family friendly” pub.

At the time they said: “We are not applying for a post-midnight licence as the pub will be very different to what it was before. It will be a modern, family-friendly high street local.”

In its application, the company claim the establishment will have a “strong focus on the local community”.

It says varying the entertainment licence and lifting conditions will “improve flexibility around trading”. It added it will take measures to ensure there is no nuisance, including closing all external windows after 11pm, not allowing customers to take drinks outside, or go outside after that time unless for the purposes of smoking.

Staff will monitor outside areas regularly and notices requesting patrons be quiet when leaving will be posted up.

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