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Magistrates restrict opening hours for Bideford’s Karma Café

16:08 06 November 2013

The Karma Cafe in Cooper Street, Bideford.

The Karma Cafe in Cooper Street, Bideford.

Archant

The Bideford internet café and chillout bar’s 24 hour license was reviewed by magistrates at an appeal hearing today (Weds).

BIDEFORD’S latest opening licensed premises will now have to close at 1.30am following an appeal brought against a licensing review.

The decision was agreed by Torridge District Council and the Karma Internet Café and Chillout Bar in the eleventh hour of the appeal stages this morning (Weds).

In July, the council’s licensing committee agreed the café should stop serving alcohol at 12.30am and close at 1am at the review brought by Devon and Cornwall Police.

It also agreed owner Ian Morris’s license would be suspended for up to three months until a sufficient management training plan had been drawn up and agreed on.

Karma had been previously licensed to open 24 hours and serve alcohol until 4am Monday – Saturday and 3am on Sundays.

Mr Morris lodged an appeal against the decision the next day and has been operating under his existing licensing terms pending today’s hearing.

But the two day hearing never reached fruition as magistrates were asked to adjourn for more than an hour as the two parties agreed to the terms outside of court.

Magistrates agreed to the terms and ordered the café to stop serving alcohol at 1am and close at 1.30am. A management plan for staff was also agreed to.

Mr Morris to pay £4,800 in costs and magistrates also ordered Torridge to pay £1,200, saying the council’s committee’s deliberations could have been misconstrued and not all of the delays were due to Mr Morris.

Speaking outside of court, Mr Morris said the opening hours were less than he had wanted but he hoped to apply to extend them after three to six months.

He said: “I make all of my money between 2am and 4am; that’s when my main income is.

“If I’d had the nerve to stand up and go through evidence I might have got a better result, but the idea of two days in court fills me with dread; I’ve never been in a court before.

“I work every weekend myself and I’ve seen zero trouble. I absolutely will be keeping my nose clean and re-applying to extend my hours.”

PC Paul Daw, neighbourhood beat manager for the night economy, said he was very pleased with the outcome of the appeal.

“Clearly we don’t want businesses to be closed down or with loss of revenue,” said PC Daw.

“I think the outcome is appropriate in view of the fact the premises was causing a problem in the night time economy.

“I’m confident the premises’ management will turn it around and it will no longer have the impact on alcohol related crime.”

And Inspector Andy Brock, sector commander for Torridge, added: “I’m extremely happy with the outcome.

“I think this shows we won’t back down if there’s something which is an issue.

“At that time of night we should be policing things like drink driving, thefts, that sort of thing. This has put Karma back in line with Bideford’s night time economy.”

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