Crown Bar: “This is incredibly embarrassing for the English licensee and it is unfortunate for Belfast”

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I have confess that I preferred old Robinson’s (before someone inadvertently blew it up) and it’s what always seemed to me to be its plush upstairs lounge, all cushioned seats, private rooms and bacolite trim. But regarding historic umbilical twin, this is just shocking:

Belfast’s Crown Bar, one of Northern Ireland’s most well-known pubs, has had to close its doors because of what staff have called a “minor licensing complication”.

Shocking, why?

Gerry Lennon, from the Belfast Visitor Centre added: “It’s not ideal for Belfast, the evening economy, pubs and restaurants are an integral part of the visitor experience, so this is really not good news.

“1.7m people stayed in the city last year and research says that 25% visited the Crown and I think that sums up how important it is to tourists.

“So it is important that it opens again.”

Colin Neil from Pubs of Ulster said there were still plenty of iconic watering holes in the city for people to enjoy.

He said: “This is incredibly embarrassing for the English licensee that operates the premise and it is unfortunate for Belfast.

“It is a quiet time of the year, but we do have some great bars if people do fancy a tipple.

He added: “Normal renewal of a licence is relatively straight forward.

“This will be a bit more challenging because the licence has actually gone and there have been similar situations in other premises and they have had to buy a new licence.

“So it could be challenging.”

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Incredible that a place so important to the tourist industry could be allowed to be run so amateurishly.

  • cynic2

    M&B has been in chaos nationally – that may be a factor

  • wild turkey

    Rumor has it G4S and Serco are in the running for the ‘new’ licence.

    ah, does anyone have an idea how much income the Crown annually generates for the Nat Trust?

  • Comrade Stalin

    I think it’s probably because M&B don’t run any other bars in Northern Ireland and they may not have been aware of differences in the licensing arrangements between here and elsewhere in the UK.

    But this problem is part of an outworking of our stupid licensing laws. If this pub isn’t reopened quickly it will be squarely down to the failure of our local politicians to reform our licensing regime for the modern era. There should be provisions to allow a one-off temporary extension of the license in the event of such administrative problems. As things stand right now, the staff of this place are going to end up out of work.

  • sherdy

    Maybe those responsible for keeping the liquor licence valid have been sampling too much of their wares.

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    The same thing happened to one of the main watering holes in Carrickfergus when I lived there. Unfortunately it had to be closed just before the Christmas season – ouch.

  • sherdy

    Mr Joe, – You must be referring to legit watering holes, as my memories of Carrick were that there were sufficient non-legit watering holes for your predicament not to have been noticed.

  • Charles_Gould

    CS
    What is wrong with NI’s licensing laws?

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    sherdy,

    Of course. Non-legit ones don’t get a Government licence although undoubtedly they have to pay a “licensing fee” to the local strongmen.

  • sherdy

    Mr Joe, – Not when the local UVF own and run them, sometimes with a ‘respectable’ front man.

  • Reader

    sherdy: Mr Joe, – Not when the local UVF own and run them, sometimes with a ‘respectable’ front man.
    Why does an unlicensed bar need a ‘respectable’ front man? Isn’t that job only required for licensed bars?

  • Delphin

    That’s what you get when you let them English ones run things, can’t even keep a bar licensed! But there are plenty of iconic bars in Belfast, so no harm done – people can still get a drink in iconic surroundings.
    What there is not plenty of are iconic A&Es. The Pootsie run RVH A&E, although iconic, was more or less overwhelmed this past week, with the hospital’s emergency procedures needing to be implemented to cope.
    Not much fuss was created by this, except for BJS picturing the above Mr Poots with a rubber johnny on his nose, implying he is a bit of a Richard – perhaps?
    With the non-event of the outcome of the Haass process to talk about and bars shutting, heath issues should indeed take a back seat.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-25667788

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    Lease it to Weatherspoons.

  • Rory Carr

    With apologies to Slim Dusty:

    There’s nothing so lonesome, nor morbid nor drear

    As to stand in the bar of a pub with…

    Plenty of beer but no license to sell it.

  • Gopher

    Basically, law that money leeching nonsense we have let grow into a beast is at fault. Its simple there should be provision for a temporary licence to be issued until the mess is sorted out. The executive should have power to sort issues like this in 5 minutes.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Charles,

    Under the existing licensing laws it’s very difficult and time-consuming to obtain a new license – AFAIK it’s all done through the courts and can take some considerable period of time. Also, I understand that there is a maximum number of licenses that can exist at any one time. If you want to open a new pub you have to buy out someone else’s license or wait for another license to be cancelled.

    A better system would be to give the licensing powers to the relevant local councils with an appeals process ultimately involving the courts. This way the input of local residents and the police can be better accommodated.

    Your mates in the SDLP have the power to change this and they’re the ones holding this up. Alex Attwood in particular is very conservative when it comes to licensing and has defended a number of our particularly stupid and pointless local arrangements, such as the totally ridiculous requirement that supermarkets sell alcohol in a completely separate roped-off area.

  • Charles_Gould

    Thanks CS for the explanation.

  • Delphin

    “particularly stupid and pointless local arrangements, such as the totally ridiculous requirement that supermarkets sell alcohol in a completely separate roped-off area”.
    I personally welcome these quiet areas, away from the incessant righteousness of the born agains . Not have to queue with them at the checkout is a bonus.

  • Freyanne

    CS – Liquor licensing laws come under the remit of DSD – that’s Nelson McCausland of the “no easy access to the devil’s buttermilk” party. But sure we know he’s too busy covering up his dealings with certain glazing firms to bother too much with licensing laws.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I personally welcome these quiet areas, away from the incessant righteousness of the born agains . Not have to queue with them at the checkout is a bonus.

    I would relish being interrupted at the checkout by a born-again.

    Freyanne – Alex Attwood was the previous DSD minister prior to the 2011 election and licensing came under review while he was there. I am not sure when the review was completed or what the implementation timetable is.

  • Freyanne

    Yes CS – he was and licensing has been under constant review for the last 10 years with very little change.

    The most recent review was instigated by McCausland, ran from July to November 2012 and the Minister only published a report on that consultation in December 2013. http://www.dsdni.gov.uk/final_report_sale_supply_alcohol_december_2013.docx

    As I said – clearly not a priority for the man. But why miss the chance to bash Attwood when you could have checked this yourself?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Freyanne,

    Because it’s important to highlight the common cause between conservative Catholics who run the SDLP and the conservative Protestants who run the DUP.

  • http://www.ur2die4.com/ amanfromMars

    Are there any penalties for running a pub without a license? Jail time/exemplary fines etc etc. or is it just a slap on the wrist?

    And have they been paid, for Belfast Telegraph informs us that the Crown Bar is ready to open again and start trading …….http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/crown-pub-set-to-resume-trading-29919911.html