January 13, 2021 3.51 pm This story is over 40 months old

Lincolnshire hotel owner had ridiculous excuse for COVID-19 breach

He changed his story after police checked CCTV

A hotel owner in Skegness tried to convince police officers that people seen drinking in his bar were in his “social bubble” but owned up when CCTV was checked.

East Lindsey District Council’s licensing sub-committee is due to review the Grosvenor Hotel’s license on Tuesday following a Lincolnshire Police request.

The force said owner Russell Sparkes had run his business “in such a manner as to undermine the licensing objectives – that is failure to implement regulations designed to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus and to protect the public.”

On November 17, the force was sent photographs which showed a group of men sitting at the hotel’s bar and drinking. A separate report received the same evening also reported that the bar area was open.

Officers reported how Mr Sparkes said no alcohol sales had taken place and that “the people in the bar area were permanent residents at the hotel who formed part of his social bubble”.

He denied other guests or workmen were permitted in the bar.

However, when visited again two days later and challenged about the allegations, a review of his CCTV was carried out.

“On two separate occasions, a group of males were seen to be openly drinking around a table in the bar area.

“Mr Sparks then conceded that they were not permanent residents or members of his bubble and in fact some were not guests of the hotel at all.

“One male identified on the CCTV was a guest who had gained permission from Mr Sparks to bring a group of friends to the bar for drinks.”

Two further reports were received that month with officers visiting again on the second one and Mr Sparks again saying persons within were part of his bubble.

Lincolnshire Police have requested the premises licence be revoked, saying the failure to adhere to COVID-19 restrictions shows “a clear lack of regard for legislation which has been introduced to fight the spread of this deadly virus.”

The review has also attracted comments from ELDC’s environmental health department, which reports nine legal notices being served in four years on the premises for hygiene and management issues, noting that cautions had “not resulted in sustained improvements”.

Nearby residents have also written to ELDC to complain about noise issues from the hotel, particularly following the construction of an outside stage.