A BAR operator has questioned whether licensing restrictions which were in place on Swansea’s Wind Street for years should be renewed as part of a review.
Bruno Nunes said he believed society was changing and that the days of the “vertical drinking, volume-led” business model were gone.
“It is no longer cool to get p*ssed beyond oblivion,” said Mr Nunes, who owns Peppermint, Bambu Beach Bar and BrewDog, all on Wind Street.
It emerged at a council licensing meeting in July that a policy which required new licensing applications to be refused in Wind Street and surrounding streets if they were likely to add to the cumulative impact – although there were exceptions – had expired.
This cumulative impact policy was introduced nine years ago due to the number of venues serving alcohol on Wind Street, High Street and some surrounding roads and linked incidents of crime, disorder and public nuisance.
The policy has been reviewed since, and the council was supposed to check it again last year but didn’t, blaming the Covid-19 pandemic. It means the policy is no longer in force, although there haven’t been any announcements to this effect.
Asked by the Local Democracy Reporting Service if it planned to reintroduce the cumulative impact policy, a council spokesman said the overarching licensing policy for Swansea was due to be reviewed in 2022-23 and that “the review of cumulative impact areas will form part of this”.
The spokesman said South Wales Police, which sometimes objects to or makes recommendations about new licensing applications, had been made aware of the cumulative impact policy’s expiry ahead of time. The spokesman also said the review which should have taken place last year couldn’t because Covid restrictions meant there was a lack of up-to-date evidence about whether the policy should remain in place.
In recent months Wind Street has been pedestrianised and upgraded. It now has more outdoor dining areas than previously, more greenery and new operators including Founders & Co, which comprises food vendor units, a coffee bar and retail space in what many revellers will remember as the Revolution bar.
Wind Street is still loud and busy on weekend nights and Wednesday nights when students flock to it, but a cluster of bars and restaurants in Uplands has also gathered a following.
Mr Nunes said he felt people were attaching more importance to the experience of a night out, and to their health, than in the past.
“I generally believe we have a society that is changing,” said Mr Nunes, who owns BrewStone and Portuguese chicken venue Frango in Uplands. “I think people are improving the quality of their decision-making. Alcohol, like everything else in life, is good in moderation.”
Mr Nunes said he appreciated that councils may still want to exercise extra licensing controls, but he had doubts about whether the cumulative impact policy remained fit for purpose.
“I can understand why a local authority would want to keep a modicum of control, but I’m not sure if the cumulative impact policy is it,” he said.
Council leader Rob Stewart said the policy had been amended when the previous review had taken place to encourage things like more seating areas and table service.
Without wishing to pre-judge the review of the overarching licensing policy, Cllr Stewart said new and planned developments in and near Wind Street would be taken into account and that the intention was to continue pushing on with “a really safe, functioning space”.
The council licensing meeting earlier this month concerned a new kebab house on Wind Street, called Flame. Having heard representations from objectors to the application and the applicant, councillors awarded Flame a premises licence. The business, which is not linked to Mr Nunes, is open seven days a week from 4pm to 5am and doesn’t sell any alcohol.