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A VENUE in Newport has had its premises licence suspended for three months after allowing a wake to take place in breach of coronavirus rules.

The Neon in Clarence Place was made the subject of a licensing review following the incident on December 17.

A Newport council report said Gwent Police witnessed 40-45 people attend the venue when regulations allowed a maximum of 15.

The council’s licensing sub-committee, which met to consider the review on Tuesday, said it was “clearly evident that the licence holder of the premises was reckless in allowing a wake to take place”.

A report of the licensing meeting said the licence holder, Andrew Byers, was “fully aware the venue was unable to allow a wake to be held not least because he had been warned not to do so by a Newport council licensing officer”.

“The committee did not accept Mr Byers’ version of events when he gave oral evidence,” the report said:

“The committee felt that on the balance of probabilities, the personnel from the radio station who were inside the venue knew that the funeral party were going to arrive at the venue at a specified time in order to allow the caterers in, and for the delivery of tables and chairs.

“Thereafter, a member of the grieving family opened the front door of the venue in order to allow the guests in.”

The report adds that the committee felt the explanation given by Mr Byers about missing CCTV footage “defied logic”.

“Mr Byers purported that the CCTV equipment was stolen and stated that the value was approximately £2,000,” the report said.

“Yet he did not provide the police with a statement.

“Had he done so, the police would surely have subsequently arrested persons, and charges would have probably ensued given the strength of the circumstantial evidence.

“Given this, the committee concluded that it was highly unlikely that a theft had in fact occurred. To compound matters, Mr Byers was unable to provide a cogent and coherent explanation as to why the CCTV footage was not saved in Cloud.”

The committee was “very disappointed that Mr Byers was reluctant to take any responsibility for what had happened”, the report adds.

As well as suspending The Neon’s premises licence for three months, the committee decided the current licence holder must be removed immediately.

The venue must also produce a document highlighting the responsibilities of each member of staff which should be updated when staff changes take place.

The Neon has been contacted for comment.

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