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Caerphilly Politics South Wales

Police ‘not confident’ in Bedwas bar owner’s plans for extended drinking hours

The Unit in Bedwas Industrial Estate (Pic: Caerphilly County Borough Council, taken from the council's licensing application report pack)

POLICE have objected to a Bedwas bar owner’s plans to extend his opening hours, warning that late-night drinking could “undermine” the council’s licensing aims.

Gareth Kedward has applied to serve alcohol to his customers for longer, as well as to allow drinking in a larger area of The Unit, formerly Keds Cafe Bar, on Bedwas House Industrial Estate.

He told Caerphilly County Borough Council’s licensing committee the move would help his business host events and a broader range of customers.

He also believed his plans for extended drinking hours had the police and council’s backing, via a “verbal agreement”.

The Unit currently has permission to sell alcohol from 11am to 11pm, seven days a week.

Mr Kedward told the committee, at a meeting on Tuesday June 11, he wanted to extend that from 9am to midnight, Mondays to Thursdays, from 9am to 12.30am, Fridays and Saturdays, and from 10am to 11.30am on Sundays.

The bar owner said he had “backtracked” on his original proposal to serve booze until 4am on Fridays and Saturdays on the “advice” of the police and council.

He also hopes to extend the premises’ permitted drinking area into an upstairs area, into a neighbouring unit, and to more of the outside space.

Mr Kedward said there had been very few incidents requiring police attendance at The Unit since its licence was first granted in 2021, and management had “held our hands up where we’ve made mistakes”.

But Gwent Police licensing officer Adrian Jones told the committee the force had “concerns about the licence holder’s ability to manage the licence objectives” currently in place at the premises.

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He said the police would “advocate keeping the licensing hours the same as the current licence permits”.

While PC Jones agreed there is no history of antisocial or “unruly” behaviour at the bar, he is “not confident in the management of the premises”.

A police colleague did have an “informal” discussion with Mr Kedward about the longer drinking hours, but after “careful consideration” with licensing officers and a local inspector, the force’s “decision was we would object to an extension”, PC Jones added.

Council environmental health officer, Sandra Lewis-Williams, told the committee she had no objection to the plans for the larger drinking area but shared the police’s concerns about longer hours at The Unit, and raised previous concerns about the premises.

A previous visit to the site found an extra bar, set up for a specific event, “in my opinion would be outside where the current licensable area is”, she said.

Ms Lewis-Williams also told the committee that during a visit “it didn’t appear that Mr Kedward or anyone else… understood the licence and the conditions” attached to it.

Mr Kedward urged the committee to support his application, telling them: “We are a small business just trying to provide local people with jobs and compete with bigger companies in the area”.

The committee will announce its decision by Tuesday June 18.

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