A BAR owner who said he has invested £4.2 million in Swansea’s night-time economy has been granted a new licence for one of his Wind Street venues at the second time of asking.
Bruno Nunes said he was aiming for more female customers aged 20 to 50 at Bambu Beach Bar.
The new licence allows up to 770 customers. The current maximum is 620.
Mr. Nunes had applied unsuccessfully last September to change the existing Bambu licence following an internal refit, including more seating and toilets, and the installation of an additional fire exit.
On this occasion, he appeared by video link at a remote Swansea Council licensing sub-committee meeting on April 28 to argue his case.
The meeting heard that, as in the previous application, South Wales Police and the council objected to the application because they felt it could add to the cumulative impact of licensed premises on Wind Street and the surrounding area.
This area is subject to a special policy, which states that licence refusal will normally be the case unless the applicant can demonstrate that the application will not add to the existing cumulative impact.
South Wales Police licensing officer Jon Hancock, quoting a submission from superintendent Steve Jones, said policing the city centre on Friday and Saturday nights “places an excessive demand” on resources in the rest of Swansea and neighbouring Neath Port Talbot.
Additional night-time pressures, he said, were being felt in Uplands, Mumbles, and Neath town centre.
Mr. Hancock said the licence application did not outline how many door staff would be used at Bambu, and that in the force’s view it was “highly likely that there will be an increase in cumulative impact”.
He did, however, describe Bambu’s operators as “vastly experienced” and “thought of in high regard”.
Mr Nunes’s legal representative, William Parry, referred the sub-committee to measures outlined in the application which set out why it should be considered an exception to the special policy.
This included more seating, a food offer at all times, and no increase in trading hours.
Mr. Parry said: “Yes, there will be an increase (in capacity), but it will be seated.”
There would, he said, be a “stark move away” in demographic terms from the “high volume, vertical drinking establishment” on Wind Street.
“Instead we are delivering safety, comfort, food, all of which, we are saying, will be attractive to the kind of people who can expect to be more well-behaved,” said Mr. Parry.
“Isn’t that what we all want for Wind Street?”
He added that crime statistics for Bambu were “extremely low”.
Mr. Nunes then addressed the sub-committee, saying he had felt vilified by aspects of the written police submission.
He said 153 people will be able to be seated at Bambu and choose table service if they wished.
Mr. Nunes said the 20 to 50-year-old female demographic he aimed to attract was “highly un-catered for” and one which had “better tastes and spends best”.
He said he fully supported and had helped shape a council strategy to improve the look of Wind Street and make it a more family-friendly destination.
He spoke about his 26 years in the hospitality sector, including the growth of his Swansea venues Peppermint, BrewDog, and BrewStone, as well as Bambu.
“There should be absolutely no question to my commitment to the city’s evening and night-time economy,” said Mr. Nunes.
He added that peak capacity at Bambu would only be possible on “Black Friday”, and that over-capacity had never been an issue at any of his venues.
He added: “The safety of customers and staff is absolutely paramount.”
Councillors on the sub-committee asked and received answers about the door staff regime, staffing numbers more generally, how customers’ movements from floor to floor would be monitored and how intoxication levels could be assessed if they were seated.
After retiring, they agreed to award the licence as requested.
Council legal adviser Aled Gruffydd said that although “to some extent, there is a departure” from the special policy, councillors felt the new layout would not negatively affect the cumulative impact.
The extra seating and very low incidence of crime were also noted, he said, along with the recognition that the new layout “moves away from the high volume, vertical drinking establishment previously offered”.
Speaking afterwards, Mr. Nunes said it was great to be granted the licence and that he was committed to promoting licensing objectives.
But he added: “It’s not a moment to celebrate – we’ve got a mountain ahead to recover from this really challenging situation with Covid.”
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