A hotel owner who tried convincing police officers that people drinking in his bar during lockdown were in his social bubble has had his alcohol licence revoked.
The Grosvenor House Hotel on North Parade in Skegness was found to be open and trading during the November coronavirus lockdown, against government guidelines.
Lincolnshire Police attended the hotel on November 19 and seized CCTV footage, which showed up to 15 customers inside drinking alcohol on Friday, November 13 and Saturday, November 14.
This broke the rules of the government’s closure order ahead of the country’s second lockdown on November 4.
Initially, Russell Sparkes, owner of the Grosvenor, tried telling officers that the people seen drinking were in his social bubble.
His excuse soon changed and he owned up to the breach when CCTV was checked.
A licence review hearing was called, and East Lindsey District Council’s licensing sub-committee subsequently revoked The Grosvenor’s alcohol licence.
The decision was made during a digital hearing on Tuesday, January 19, where the evidence found a clear breach in regulations.
A 21-day appeal process is now in place, and if no appeal is submitted the suspension comes into action.
Sergeant Kim Enderby, alcohol licensing manager for Lincolnshire Police, said: “I thought after 29 years in the police there wasn’t a lot left to shock me but the way in which this venue was operating was awful.
“Nearly two weeks after the November lockdown had started we found footage of over fifteen people in the bar area.
“They were being served pint after pint by the owner of the premises, Mr Sparks.
“Of equal concern was the total lack of social distancing measures in place. At one point over ten men were crammed round a small table drinking and posing for what we think were the Facebook posts.
“There were no face masks being worn by customers or staff, nothing had been put in place to try and prevent the spread of the virus.
Sergeant Enderby continued: “Mr Sparkes claimed it was an error of judgement on his part to open the bar but that is a poor excuse.
“The blatant disregard for both the closure order and social distancing measures demonstrates a lack of management and control over these premises.
“We are not yet out of this pandemic, whilst the vaccine rollout is well under way, we still need everyone to be sensible and follow the regulations.
“Anyone responsible for running licensed premises is expected to do so responsibly and within the law.”