Wembley bar given last chance after alleged licence and Covid breaches

A North West London bar has been issued a “final warning” after it was caught serving customers past its opening hours and was accused of breaking Covid rules.

The VIP Lounge’s alcohol licence was put up for review after numerous complaints about noise and “late night revelry”.

Brent Council’s licensing committee stopped short of revoking the licence but said any future breaches “would not be tolerated”.

Council officers noted the Wembley High Road bar had stayed open past its agreed closing time of 2am on at least one occasion, while a police report said there had been complaints it would sometimes stay open until 6am.

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The council’s licensing team added that on one visit, when Covid restrictions were in place, a member of staff at the bar warned people “Brent Council is outside, please sit down and ensure social distancing”.

It also criticised the bar’s licence holders for not providing the council with CCTV footage when requested, while a lack of communication left officers feeling like “they weren’t being taken seriously”.

There was also evidence of the bar promoting ticketed events through third-party websites, where the closing time either surpassed the permitted time or simply said, “‘til late”.

Luke Elford, the solicitor representing the bar, said “mistakes were made” and that the management were keen to rectify things.

He said: “It’s not what we wanted or we expected to be. We’re not trying to claim we’re whiter than white – mistakes were made and we accept that.

“We want to move on from that and establish a way forward.

“The guys got it wrong in July and with the CCTV and they apologise wholeheartedly for that.

“[They] are not bad operators; they are trying their best in difficult circumstances. The licence was never fit for purpose in the first place and needs to be reframed.”

Mr Elford suggested amendments to the licence should be made and the licensing committee welcomed any proposals across the next 28 days.

Its decision also means the bar cannot apply for any temporary events licences for the next eight weeks.

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