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New Venetian cafe and bar in city centre faces hurdles from police and council

A new Venetian cafe and bar opening in Cardiff’s city centre has faced hurdles from the police and the council.

Bacareto is opening in July on Church Street, inspired by small bàcari in Venice, with coffee, pastries and paninis during the day, and wine and an evening menu at night.

The restaurant applied for a premises licence from Cardiff council, in order to sell alcohol, which was granted on Thursday, June 29.

Both South Wales Police and Cardiff council’s licensing department objected to the licensing application, due to a policy previously criticised as restrictive and favouring chains.

The ‘cumulative impact policy’ means any new business applying for a premises licence in the city centre will be refused, unless the applicant can show how they will prevent public nuisance, prevent crime and disorder, protect children from harm and promote public safety.

But the policy has previously been accused of making the city centre “stagnant”, and favouring larger chains over independent bars and restaurants, as the larger chains can more easily jump over the significant legal hurdles in meeting the cumulative impact policy.

Recently two nearby councils, Newport and Bristol, have removed their cumulative impact policy to encourage more new businesses to open up and support the nighttime economy.

Bristol later reinstated its policy, despite desperate pleas from local business groups.

In Cardiff, one council officer said he would object to Bacareto opening up due to this policy, and as he could go into the bar and “drink seven glasses of wine” if he wanted to, without ordering any food.

During the licensing hearing, cafe owner Rebecca Thomas said: “Bacareto is a new independent cafe and bar that’s inspired by Venice.

“We believe that Bacareto will be a valuable, distinctive offering for Cardiff city centre, giving the opportunity for responsible, enjoyable socialising with quality food and drink options, which will be mostly plant-based and highlight local, seasonal and sustainable goods from independent producers.

“We take inspiration from the European cafe-bar culture, which is inclusive, family-friendly, intergenerational, relaxed and unhurried. We hope to be somewhere that all ages can feel comfortable.”

The team behind Bacareto also runs Spit and Sawdust, a community space in east Cardiff which opened in 2014. It includes a skate park, cafe and bar. In the evening, Bacareto would likely see half its customers eating food, and half there just for drinks.

Sergeant Rob Gunstone said the police were objecting to the application because of the cumulative impact policy, but had agreed conditions to the licence if it were to be granted, including door staff and CCTV.

He said: “Church Street has evolved from a street with a mixed retail and hospitality premises into what it is now, a short street but one which is almost 100 per cent hospitality premises, such as restaurants, pubs and bars. It’s quite densely populated in that respect.

“The police position is—despite the measures offered by the applicant—we would object to the application under the provision of Cardiff council’s cumulative impact policy.”

Cardiff council’s licensing department also objected to the application because of the cumulative impact policy, as customers would be able to drink wine at the bar without ordering any food.

Jay Sampson, licensing enforcement officer, said: “You are primarily wet-led past a certain point of the day. It falls within the red category of the cumulative impact policy. It is a rather short street that is saturated with licenced premises.

“If I want to go in there and drink five, six, seven glasses of wine, I can do that. I can go in there for that purpose specifically. Alcohol isn’t ancillary to a table meal. I could go there solely for alcohol, without buying any food.”

Despite the objections, the council’s licensing committee granted the licence. According to its social media, Bacareto is now due to open in July.

Councillor Norma Mackie, chair of the licensing committee, said: “The premises is located in an area covered by the cumulative impact policy that creates the rebuttable presumption that any new applications for premises licences will be refused — unless the applicant can  demonstrate that granting the application will not add to the cumulative impact in the area.

“We have agreed that the cumulative impact policy would apply to this application. We note that prior to the meeting you accepted the proposed conditions of South Wales Police, and the proposed conditions of environmental health and pollution control.

“We feel you have successfully demonstrated that this application would not negatively add to the cumulative impact in the area, and this application does not negatively impact on the licensing objectives. We therefore resolve to grant the application.”

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