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Complaints regarding Carmarthenshire public house presented to Licensing sub-committee

A PUB at the centre of numerous noise complaints may have to close its windows and doors in the evening and stop playing music outside.

The Poplars Inn, on the outskirts of Carmarthen, has been visited multiple times by council environmental, licensing and Trading Standards officers and by Dyfed-Powys Police, mainly since the coronavirus pandemic hit in March 2020.

A council licensing sub-committee heard there were other complaints about fighting, vomiting and urinating by customers outside the pub.

One resident said in an email that he had got home with his children one evening in October this year to find a couple he had seen leaving the pub shortly before making out in his garden.

Residents and council officers took 688 noise recordings inside and outside their homes and the sub-committee heard that music was clearly audible within neighbouring properties at times.

A brass band playing in a marquee in the pub’s car park during one of the Lions test matches against South Africa in July was “extremely loud”, according to Aled Morgan, the council’s pollution lead officer.

The sub-committee was also told the council issued the pub with a premises improvement notice in April this year due to non-compliance with Covid regulations in place at the time.

Licensing officer Emyr Jones said: “The local authority believes it is appropriate for additional conditions to be placed on the licence.”

Licensee Mark Howell’s legal representative, Ashanti-Jade Walton, said her client had done his best to work with the authorities and was passionate about the pub and the local community.

She said his hands were tied as regards customers’ behaviour outside the Johnstown premises, but that the marquee in the pub car park had now been taken down.

Miss Walton said the behaviour of some pub-goers everywhere when lockdowns ended was “far from appropriate”.

She added: “Mr Howell feels some of the complaints stem from certain individuals who have a vendetta against him personally and the public house.”

The sub-committee heard more than two hours of evidence before retiring to consider whether it should impose six conditions on the pub’s licence.

The proposed conditions include windows and doors to be closed from 7pm onwards, and no live or amplified music to be played outside.

The pub would, however, be able to apply for temporary event notices for live music outside even if the conditions were imposed.

Miss Walton said keeping windows closed in the evening seemed counter-productive during a pandemic when good air circulation was recommended.

Also addressing the sub-committee was Dyfed-Powys Police’s licensing officer David Bizby, who said the force received 33 calls about incidents inside or directly outside the pub between January 2019 and mid-October this year.

He said police backed the extra conditions proposed, and it put forward two of its own.

Carmarthen Town South councillor Gareth John said he believed the various issues arose mainly from the pub being in a residential area and the “nature of the business” changing over time.

He said he had sympathy for the landlord running a pub during the pandemic.

Cllr John also said residents didn’t feel the investigations carried out by the various council departments had been coordinated particularly well.

He also noted that two or three neighbouring properties were vacant. When asked if he thought the pub might be the reason for this, he replied: “I would say they would not be the easiest places to sell, but I can’t prove they are empty because of that.”

The sub-committee will write to all parties with its decision within five working days.

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