Halls win right to hold more events despite opposition from neighbours

TWO halls have won licences to hold more events, despite opposition from residents.

Sodbury Masonic Hall, on Hatters Lane in Chipping Sodbury, has been granted a premises licence by South Gloucestershire Council, so the bar inside the hall can sell alcohol until 11pm, for events like wedding receptions.

And Hawkesbury Upton Village Hall can now sell alcohol until 12.30am on Fridays and Saturdays – 90 minutes later than current last orders – up to 12 times a year for private events and parties.

A council licensing meeting in December heard a neighbour’s concerns over access to the Masonic Hall, with photographs submitted of a delivery lorry squeezed into the narrow lane (below), with its driver having to walk along the top of a wall to make the delivery and then reach the cab again.

A tight squeeze for a beer dray at Sodbury Masonic Hall, in a picture submitted to the licensing committee by a neighbour

The neighbour said: “When trapped by the narrow width of the drive, these vehicles then need to reverse out of the junction — a dangerous manoeuvre.”

Solicitor David Roberts, representing the applicants, said the new licence would likely mean private events being held once or twice a month.

He said: “This is not an application for a new nightclub or a new licensed public house. This is to facilitate more flexibly how the hall is used.

“The premises is home to five different masonic lodges. It’s also used as a community base for a number of other organisations, including the Historical Society and the Women’s Institute.

“If somebody wanted to use the hall and hire it out for a private event — it might be a family party or a small wedding reception — [the new licence] gives them the flexibility to do that.”

He added that no alcohol would be drunk outside of the premises, and there would be no increase in deliveries despite the extra events.

Hall would be forced to shut down without extra hours

A meeting in January approved an extension for the licence at Hawkesbury Upton Village Hall after venue managers told the council’s licensing sub-committee that the hall would be forced to shut without the extra hours.

A resident who wrote to oppose the application said they were “happy to tolerate the existing noise and disturbance”but were concerned the extension would mean events didn’t pack up until as late as 1.30am.

They wrote: “When events are taking place it’s often impossible to get to sleep in the rooms nearest the hall, especially in the summer when windows and doors are open.”

A village hall representative said the longer licence was needed so that the volunteers who ran the venue on the High Street did not have to make costly and time-consuming individual applications every time there was a booking with a later closing time, which could lead to bookings being lost.

He said: “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.”

The sub-committee approved the application after adding a suggested condition limiting the late-night extension to 12 times a year.

By Alex Seabrook and Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service