Lapsed licence closes iconic Crown bar

Published Friday, 10 January 2014
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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".

Lapsed licence closes iconic Crown bar
Belfast's Crown Bar is one of the city's oldest drinking establishments. (© Presseye)

The bar, a popular location for tourists on Belfast's Great Victoria Street, has had to close because its liquor licence has expired.

It is believed the licence expired in November 2012.

When contacted by UTV, a staff member said "minor licensing complications" would mean it would not be open on Friday.

A spokeswoman for Mitchells & Butlers, which operates the bar, said: "Due to an administrative oversight the Crown will be closed temporarily until the new licence application hearing takes place on 17 January.

"During the closure we'll be taking the opportunity to carry out some staff training - at what it is our quietest time of year - and also some cleaning.

"We do apologise if this inconveniences our regulars but under the circumstances it is the right course of action for us to take."

A spokesman for the National Trust, which owns the bar, said: "The Crown Bar has been leased to the current tenant since 2006.

"All statutory obligations, including the renewal of licences, rest with the tenant.

"We are very concerned to learn about this oversight and we encourage the tenant to seek a speedy resolution to this issue to ensure this historic building is reopened to the public as soon as possible."

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.

He said: "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."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
22 Comments
Harry in Omagh wrote (292 days ago):
Let's just get this straight. There is no 12 month 'grace' period. The licensing law allows a licensee to renew their licence during the 12 months after it has expired (there is an extra fee to be paid per month that it is late). The premises must not trade once the licence has expired (in this case 30/9/2012). They must now apply for a brand new licence and surrender the current expired licence. This is a judicial process and a matter for the judge hearing the application as to whether or not to grant it (he/she will grant it unless there is some objection or the application doesn't comply with the relevant legislation)
Iain in Belfast wrote (292 days ago):
Oh give over norman d. So one pub closing is going to make a huge change? Live in the real world and come out of that holier than thou bubble. You thrive on misery of other people.
Jo in Antrim wrote (293 days ago):
Acted quickly?? What are you on. Jobs are under threat here because someone was not doing there job. 14 months is not acting quickly. I get no grace when my car licence runs out.
Buzz in Belfast wrote (293 days ago):
Norman if you think that closing a bar is going to stop people drinking you are niave. You cannot control people in that way; if people want to drink and choose to drink they will always find a way to do it.
PR in ards wrote (293 days ago):
norman d - IL DRINK TO THAT
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