The licence for sale of alcohol and holding events outside at Ludlow Rugby Club has received more than 50 objections, the majority from Linney, Dinham, Cliffe and Cliffe Park. Shropshire Council has received nearly 30 expressions of support.  

The initial application by Ludlow Rugby Club for a licence for alcohol and events from 8:00am to 1:00am for the clubhouse, the two pitches behind the club and the new car park area. These would apply 365 days a year. Given the comments from rugby club has since cut back the proposal after discussions with Shropshire Council and the police. The area for outside events has been halved and the hours for entertainment and serving of alcohol have been reduced. The number of days the outdoor area can be used for events will also be restricted.

It is a feature of the licencing process that people who object or support an application get no opportunity to revise their comments before the licencing meeting. However, I think few, if any, will have changed their views once they have seen the agreed conditions between the rugby club and Shropshire Council. The revised conditions are better but more needs to be done to make this application acceptable in licencing terms.

Proposed licenced area

Just a few comments from those that have been submitted:

“Limit the opening hours to midnight, with sale of alcohol and entertainment stopping at 11p.m. Do nor allow ‘Festivals’ there. It is totally inappropriate to use this venue in a small town.”

“The granting of such a licence in the area proposed is totally inappropriate and would have a detrimental effect on the town in regard to footfall at the time of the Spring Festival.”

“There have been numerous incidents of drunken behaviour in the street following events at the Rugby Club, even with shorter licenced hours and a much smaller indoor venue. The Linney is very poorly lit, which provides the cover of darkness for antisocial behaviour, while the street is very narrow in places meaning that noise travels easily. It is also quite a lengthy walk into town, so a substantial number of residents are affected. With greater numbers of people and longer hours these disturbances will inevitably increase enormously.”

Licencing committees have three options. Reject the application outright. Accept the application as is. Or negotiate for modifications. Of those representations that oppose the licence fully or in part:

  • 41 offer no proposed conditions or reject new licence entirely, two suggesting using temporary event notices.
  • Eight propose limiting the scale, duration and frequency of events, especially outdoors, and alcohol sales.
  • One representation suggests the change of use is unlawful in planning terms and another proposes an environment and biodiversity condition is required.

The major objections raised by residents are:  

  • Young people’s safety. Consumption of alcohol in proximity to the park, which is used by families and children. Young people congregate and play football. The application will discourage them. Large numbers of intoxicated youngsters close to the river. The adjacent Bowls and Tennis Club has junior members. All day drinking is not appropriate close to a children’s play area.
  • Nuisance. Loud music will destroy the tranquility of the neighbourhood, including Cliffe Park, preventing residents, including children, enjoying their gardens and sleeping. Extra lighting. Fireworks. Dog fouling.
  • Traffic. An increase of traffic along the Linney and Dinham, both of which are narrow, and the threat to pedestrian and cyclist safety, including children. Parking for events, including blocking of Linney Field car park with event cars. Increased pollution. Attendance volumes trapping people in their homes.
  • Disorder. Disorder within the rugby club and outside, encouraging drug taking, rowdiness, fights, vandalism and damage to cars. Litter. Increased risk of alcohol to children.
  • Housing. The value of housing in the area would be reduced.
  • Ecology. No assessment of the impact of events on the Teme SSSI or ecology.
  • Town centre. Loss of trade in the town centre.

Shropshire Council received 27 representations of support. The common thread is that the proposed licensable activities will not cause as much concern as residents think and the licence is essential for the survival of the Spring Food Festival. Some examples:

“If the licence were granted l would be most surprised that if any of the neighbours who are currently objecting would eventually be in a position to say “we told you so!” The granting of a new licence l believe would certainly make club officials and members… l really do think that neighbours around the Linney have no cause for concern.”

“On face value I can see why some of the local residents may be wary of this change, but the main reason for applying is so that they can host the Spring Beer Festival, which is looking for a new home this May. If it is not held at the Rugby Club it is likely that Spring Festival won’t go

ahead this year, which will be a big blow to the town.”

“There are objections on the grounds that traffic would be too heavy in the narrow roads around the club grounds. True it can get congested, but the club has experience in dealing with traffic, in and out of the ground from previous festivals where parking has held at tge rugby club. In particular parking for disabled visitors and the provision of a complimentary bus to assist the visitors.

“With forward planning and consultation there are solutions to cover what would at the most be a three day event (i.e Ludlow spring festival or Ludlow food festival). Other events are not likely to be any different to what has been held in previous years, one day sporting events.”

Andy Wright, President Ludlow Rugby Club submitted a representation that listed all the events already hosted by the club, including disabled parking for the food festivals and a wide range of sporting and fitness events. He added:

“All the above requires an income of more than £100,000 to run annually. Some can be raised through sponsorship but the majority relies on income from our licensed premises. I am confident that we have complied with the terms of our previous licence and this new application is not significantly different other than it applies to the grounds as well as the clubhouse. This is to allow the Spring Festival to move to our grounds. Organisers say they can no longer afford to run within the castle grounds and approached the club so that the festival, which is vital to Ludlow, could be saved. We were happy to oblige but need to vary the licence to comply.

”With the exception of the Spring Festival I do not foresee any significant change in the size and scale of our operations at the Rugby Club.”

Final details of conditions on the licence will be agreed at a hearing in Shirehall at 10am on 13 February. Only those who have already made written representations can speak at the hearing, though others can attend to observe. Licencing committees are not live streamed.

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