A BUSINESSMAN who spent £200,000 upgrading a bar in Swansea has claimed the new licence for the venue is “far worse” than the old one.
Bruno Nunes said he would not have made the Bambu Beach Bar investment if he’d known the outcome of a Swansea Council licensing sub-committee meeting, which took place earlier this month.
Mr Nunes, the chief executive of Creative Hospitality Group, which also runs Peppermint, Brewstone and Brewdog, said the Bambu refurbishment on Wind Street included a new emergency exit.
This meant the maximum number of customers would, from a fire safety perspective, increase from 620 to 770.
The revamp has resulted in more toilets, more fixed and removable seating, an outdoor mezzanine and, according to Mr Nunes, a removal of pinch points and an improved overall offering.
“We created the space to appeal to a broader demographic,” he said.
South Wales Police objected to the licence application, saying it went against a special policy for the Wind Street area and would have a negative impact on crime disorder, public safety and public nuisance.
Concerns were raised by police licensing officer, PC Jon Hancock, that the licence application had not outlined whether there was an intention to increase the bar’s capacity.
The sub-committee heard from a solicitor on behalf of the applicant, Bambu Ops Ltd, who said the capacity increase was not the reason for the refurbishment.
The sub-committee’s decision, which has now been published, renews the venue’s licence but stipulates the capacity must not exceed 620. Staff must ensure there are no more than 320 customers on the ground floor, 200 on the first floor and 100 on the second floor.
Another of the conditions is that security staff must be present from 9pm on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and on Sundays preceding a bank holiday.
Mr Nunes said: “What we have now is a far worse licence.”
He said costs will rise when Bambu finally reopens because security staff will be on duty earlier than normal.
He said the new-look venue could cater safely for 770 people if it was allowed to and that the extra revenue would have been important given how hard the sector has been by the coronavirus crisis.
Mr Nunes said he was angry at and completely rejected any suggestion that the increase in capacity had been attempted in an underhand manner.
He claimed he had volunteered this information to PC Hancock, and that he had also emailed him and the council at the beginning of the licence application consultation period inviting them to get in touch if they had any issues.
At the meeting PC Hancock said it had become “blatantly clear” during the application process that there was the potential for an extra 150 customers, and that this was the figure the authorities had to work with.
The special policy for Wind Street and the surrounding area has a presumption against new or varied licenses unless operators can demonstrate they won’t add to the cumulative impact of one or more of the licensing objectives.
The licensing sub-committee said any licence it granted for Bambu – a “high volume vertical drinking establishment” – would be in perpetuity.
The sub-committee accepted the increased capacity arose from a fire safety perspective, and that the purpose of the application was not to increase it.
The decision notice also accepted it was not known when or if the increased capacity would have been achieved.
But it added: “However, there was the potential for it and in light of the effect of the special policy, members found an increased capacity could have a negative impact in respect of the licensing objective for the prevention of crime and disorder as raised by South Wales Police.”
Mr Nunes said his business had invested when others were contracting and cutting costs.
“My job is to do everything I can to increase the chance of success,” he said.
Referring to the decision, he said: “If I knew this would have happened, the investment would not have happened.”