Decision due on future of Leeds city centre bar accused of breaching Covid guidance

Police and environmental health authorities have scaled back their request for Leeds City Council to strip a city centre bar of its alcohol licence.

Wednesday, 17th February 2021, 5:50 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th February 2021, 5:54 pm

Council licensing chiefs heard accusations that Taag in Great George Street had played music unreasonably loud, while drinkers allegedly broke social distancing rules between June and October last year when bars were allowed to be open.

But, following a change in management in December, West Yorkshire Police downgraded their application to revoke the licence, provided the previous licensee would no longer be involved.

According to police, a number of incidents took place at the venue between July and October 2020, prompting warnings from environmental health around noise levels and a lack of social distancing among drinkers, before being closed due to Covid regulations in October 14.

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Taag, Leeds City Centre.

The meeting heard how on July 4 last year a warning had been issued from environmental health because of the loudness of the music from the bar. A similar warning was made by the police seven days later.

Further warnings were issued by environmental protection and the police in September and October due to allegations of music being played and social distancing not being adhered to.

However, a new licensee, Tijani Yesufu, was appointed at the venue in December, and police downgraded their application to revoke the licence, and instead asked to put extra conditions on the licence.

West Yorkshire Police Solicitor Andrew Garthwaite told a meeting of the council’s Licensing Sub-committee: “A lot has changed since the application was initially submitted, due to change from what we could call the old regime to the new regime.

“It is fair to say there has been significant developments, in that a new applicant has come forward and has prompted the police to revisit their objection, and that was subsequently withdrawn and the transfer has taken place.

“That brings about the situation the police are at now with this review – under the old regime, the police would be very clear that significant breaches of regulations and concerns that would have prompted an application for a suspension of the premises licence.

“The new regime that have taken over have allayed, to some degree, police concerns about what has taken place. I am pleased to say that following discussions, there is a suggestion as to how this matter can proceed.”

He added that the police believed Mr Yesufu was a responsible operator.

The police proposed additional seven conditions should be added to the licence including previous licensee should have no input into the management of the premises, there would be a minimum of one door supervisor on Fridays and Saturdays and a radio link with the police.

Representing Mr Yesufu, Ed Smith said: “TJ is a responsible operator – he is a new premises licence holder but he accepts he will be ultimately responsible for the premises.

“I think we have got to a position where the conditions have been tentatively agreed between the licence holder and the police.

“These conditions will allow the premises to move forward and give confidence that they will be met. The history of this premises and the problems have quite rightly been associated with the old regime.”

He added Mr Yesufu would now also look in to taking over the lease of the premises.

Mr Yesufu himself said: “Moving forward there will be no involvement with the old regime managing the business at all.

“I have been in this industry for 10 years and this is the point I wanted to get to. I would not put myself in a position where I could have any future problems with authorities by allowing someone else to get involved and have a say.

“I have recently done by personal licence and I wouldn’t put that at risk by involving anyone else.”

Chairing the meeting, Coun Billy Flynn told attendees that a decision would be made and distributed within five working days.