Anger over Stowford centre licence hitch

Centre chairman “lost for words” over licensing delay

TECHNICAL hitches appear to have delayed the issuing of a premises licence for Stowford Community Centre.

Jeff Turner, chairman of the community interest company running the centre, said a licence application to cover events like Becky Robson’s fashion show, had been applied for “before Christmas” but only put out for 28 days public consultation last Tuesday, the day she was told her NSPCC fund-raiser couldn’t go ahead there.

The last-minute venue cancellation left the Temple Street hairdresser furious.

Speaking after her successful Friday show, which transferred to the Manor Pavilion Theatre, Becky said: “The centre really let me down, with a big event to sort out.

“I would say how disgusted I am with that. It was just so unprofessional. I will never use them and will not recommend anyone else to use them because they let us down so badly.”

Mr Turner said he was “surprised” she was upset, saying: “When she came and talked to the manager she seemed sanguine about it and said she understood the position.”

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But, he added: “I am lost for words. This licence issue has been drifting on for several months. I thought it had been in (with East Devon District Council) before this event because I was asked for the cheque to pay for it two or three weeks ago.

“I was quite surprised when I discovered it was not in place. The first I heard about it was when I was informed by the manager that he’d had a call from EDDC that we couldn’t go ahead with the fashion show.”

He said a centre director had understood that once the licence application was in, the centre could hold such events.

Mr Turner said he was told by a licensing officer an article in the Sidmouth Herald had prompted a call to the centre to warn them a licence wasn’t in place.

But, he said: “I think he had a complaint and once he had a complaint he realised there was no way it could go ahead because it was in breach of the law.”

Christine Drew, former chairman of the trustees, said she was “upset and astounded” to read of the licensing problems.

She said: “Before I stepped I had been chairman of the licensing committee at East Devon, I was able to give the committee the details they would need to obtain their licences, which included dance and entertainment.”

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