COUNILLORS have approved a village hall’s booze licence extension despite neighbours’ fears of late-night noisy drunken revellers.

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.

Venue managers told South Gloucestershire Council licensing sub-committee that the centre would be forced to shut without the extra hours.

They told the hearing on Monday, January 9, that the aim was to cut costs and workloads for the volunteers who run the centre on the High Street. 

This will end the need to make individual applications for temporary event notices (TENs) each time bookings required later closing times.

One resident, who was not named and did not attend, told the panel in a statement: “While we accept and are happy to tolerate the existing noise and disturbance originating from the hall up to 11pm — which inevitably drags on until 12am or 12.30am, allowing for people leaving the premises — we are extremely concerned with the licence being extended to 12.30am.

“This will result in noise and disturbance taking place as late as 1.30am and longer, especially as another hour of alcohol consumption will inevitably lead to more disturbance.

“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.

“As part of the village, we’re happy to tolerate the existing inconvenience in the interests of the local community.

“However, we’ve very concerned that the proposed extension will have a significant impact on our property.”

A village hall representative told councillors they had lost bookings because of the uncertainty in TENs being granted and that these doubts would be removed with a permanent later premises licence for weekends.

He said: “We have no intention of increasing the special events we have in the hall by any significant number – we don’t have the capacity, time wise, to do that. 

“There is no agenda here to make this a regular event.

“To operate, maintain and repair the village hall we run a deficit of about £9,000 a year against the regular income we receive from standing bookings.

“The hall is used quite well by a number of sport and activity groups but over a year the income that generates leaves us short.

“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.

“Without them we would have to close which would be a huge detriment to the parish, given that we are a rural community and people rely on the hall for everything from dance to toddlers to karate to pensioners to the WI.”

He said only nine events at the venue in the last couple of years had required a TEN or later licence and that this was not expected to increase.

“We are very aware of this balancing act between making the village a financially viable service to the community while trying not to cause any disruption to anyone,” he told the meeting at Kingswood Civic Centre.

“If it helps our application, we would be happy if we were restricted to the number of times we could have that extension.

“If we could use it 10 times a year, that would be the maximum.

“The important thing for us is to take away the cost and workload of making these applications.”

The sub-committee approved the application and added a condition limiting the late-night extension to 12 times a year.