LEGAL BATTLE: Football club wins outdoor events licence row
An aerial view of Monton Amateur Football Club in Granary Lane, Worsley, Image: Google Maps
An amateur football club has won a legal battle to hold outdoor events for up to 2,000 people.
AFC Monton in Worsley will be able to serve alcohol at its clubhouse until midnight from Thursdays to Saturdays.
Outside activities, including live or recorded music, must end by 9pm, but clubhouse bar can continue to serve alcohol until at least 11pm every night.
It comes after a resident risked losing more than £5,000 by taking Salford council to court to challenge its decision to extend the premises licence.
Alison Moores appealed the council’s decision to allow the outdoor licensed events at the club just a stone’s throw away from her house in Granary Lane.
The club’s application was approved by the licensing panel on March 24 after more than a quarter of the households in the neighbourhood objected.
Alison’s appeal was dismissed at Manchester Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday (October 12) – but despite this decision, she still feels like she won in a way.
That is because she faced the prospect of incurring £5,400 in legal costs which the council and club claimed – but the judge did not award any costs.
Speaking after the judgement, she told the Local Democracy Reporting Service she felt ‘elated’ after representing herself with no legal support.
She said: “It was only after, when I cried, that I realised what I’d done.”
But when asked whether she would do it again, she said the cost scares her.
Worsley and Westwood Park councillor Robin Garrido also gave evidence and raised concerns as a resident who has lived in the area for 45 years.
He told the judge that his main concern was the suggestion of ‘open-air events’ – which the club referred to as ‘fun days’ – of up to 2,000 people.
However, club chairman Kieran Rabbitt said events at the site have been attended by around 1,000 people in the past with no problems reported.
He confirmed that all outdoor activities on the site would cease at 9pm.
The clubhouse has an indoor capacity of 70 people and although the club has planning permission for an extension, this would only allow for up to 70 more.
Coun Garrido thanked Alison for her efforts on behalf of the community.
However, he questioned why the council instructed a barrister, contributing to legal costs of £3,300 in addition to the fee incurred by the club for a solicitor.
He said: “It deters residents from taking this to court. I think we have to make it as easy as possible for residents to challenge a decision. That’s democracy.”
In the judgement delivered by District Judge John McGarva, he said he cannot conclude that the decision made by Salford council was demonstrably wrong.
Responding to the judgement, a Salford council spokesman said: “The licensing panel approved a premises licence which gives the council and police more power to control activities on site than a club licence.
“Local residents appealed and, after due consideration, the court upheld the council’s decision.
“Decisions about legal representation are made on a case-by-case basis and are guided by legal advice.
“The council will always seek, on behalf of the taxpayers, to recover the external costs it incurs in responding to such cases and the appellants were advised of this in advance.
“In this case the judge did not award costs.”
Words: Joseph Timan, Local Democracy Reporter
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