Thursday 18 January 2018

Councillor's pub licence objection

Sligo Fire Service objected to Dromore West publican and County Councillor Micheal Clarke's application to transfer his pub into his son's name because rubbish bins were found placed on a fire escape route.

Cllr Clarke and his son Mr Paul Augustine Clarke made an application for an ad interim transfer of the licence for The Still Bar from father to son at Sligo District Court last week.

Solicitor for Mr Clarke, Ms Valerie Kearins, told the court that her client had engaged with the services of an engineer and undertook to carry out any works required by the Fire Authority in the coming weeks.

Objecting to the move, solicitor for the Fire Authority, Mr Brian Armstrong, told Judge Kevin Kilrane that the premises was extended "without going through the normal fire certification process."

"The rate of progress is very slow," he told the court. "The Fire Service has launched a full objection today," he said.

Mr Armstrong welcomed the fact that the applicants had engaged an engineer for the works but said there was "substantial work to be done."

"We'd like to hear from the person as to who will be in control," he added.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Conor McShane took the witness stand and testified that he had inspected The Still Bar in January and found "a number of fire safety issues regarding the protection of escape routes."

"They require an engineer to ensure they're designed safely," he told the judge.

"There are fire safety management issues in relation to storage and escape routes from the premises, particularly one, that is ongoing for a number of years," he added.

The Assistant Chief Fire Officer said there were two escape routes from The Still, one from the front door and the second at the side.

It was this side escape route that was in contention.

Mr McShane said there were "six or seven bins and rubbish gathered outside the door, reducing the width of the escape route."

"This has been noted on our file over the past 16 or 17 years on and off," he said.

He also said that the bins were still seen on the escape route during an inspection of the pub on Monday July 20th.

"We would like the future licensee nominated to be more aware of his fire safety obligations," Mr McShane said.

Ms Kearins said her client was hoping to undertake any works required by the Fire Service.

She said the landlord, Mr Michael Clarke, owned the building but "would not be working on the premises."

His son, Mr Paul Augustine Clarke told the court he had engaged an engineer and works would be completed by September 11th.

He had ordered doors from Munster Joinery and they would be delivered in the next two weeks.

Under cross examination from Mr Armstrong, Mr Clarke said he appreciated he was undertaking a fairly substantial commitment but would do whatever his engineer told him needed to be done.

Judge Kilrane said it was important to maintain the pub "in a manner that is safe."

"Mr Clarke is going to have to realise that they're going to have to comply with this," he said.

"There's an attitude here that this is of no significance and when the Fire Officer comes the bins will be removed…it's not being taken seriously," he told Ms Kearins.

Judge Kilrane said there was "a lack of urgency and concern about the importance" of the matter.

"A lot of leeway has been allowed in regard to the structural matters," he said referring to the substantial work to be done by Mr Paul Clarke.

"A degree of latitude has to be allowed to Mr Clarke junior, as they're quite expensive, using materials that prevent the spread of fire.

"That will have to be taken care of in due course," he told the court.

However, referring to the bins, the judge said the matter of the obstruction of an exit "can be put right today."

"It's only a matter of organising storage elsewhere. Alternative arrangements will have to be made. It's just an attitude situation. The old ways are no longer acceptable," he added.

Judge Kilrane granted the application.

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