New supervisor for Sunderland bar rejected by city bosses following police concerns

Bosses at a Sunderland bar have been told to find a new candidate for supervisor after their original choice was turned down following police concerns about “fights, assaults and underage drinking” at the premises.

By Nic Marko
Friday, 18th February 2022, 5:48 pm

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Joseph's Bar, Holmside, Sunderland
Joseph's Bar, Holmside, Sunderland

In November, Tony Shipley, the premises licence holder at Joseph’s Bar, in Holmside, lodged a bid for Mark Morrison to take over as designated premises supervisor.

However Northumbria Police objected, prompting a hearing by Sunderland City Council Licensing Sub-Committee into the attempted appointment.

And local authority chiefs ultimately sided with officers after being told of their “concerns about Mr Morrison’s ability to perform” the role due to crime and disorder worries.

City Hall, Sunderland

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Force solicitor Helen Thompson noted although historically there have been “no major incidents” at the bar, issues in recent months have rung alarm bells.

She said: “The last six months have raised significant concerns, such that the premise is now on an action plan.

“The issues at Joseph’s Bar to date involve fights, assaults, there’s concerns about door staff lying to officers and concerns in relation to underage drinking.

“There’s concerns as to whether or not Mr Morrison has the ability to come in and tackle these concerns appropriately and put effective measures in place to address them.”

Evidence presented to the committee included reports of drug use in the premises as recently as last month.

Sergeant Maria Ord said improvements made following incidents “have been very much under the direction of police”.

She added: “I don’t have the faith that will carry on moving forward without the close supervision of the police.”

However Mr Morrison, who completed his licensing course four years ago and has been involved in the running of Joseph’s Bar since 2019, insisted steps are being taken to crack down on issues, despite a “a little spike” over the Christmas period.

He said: “We’re following the guidelines and we’re trying to constantly improve.

“The number of incidents are very, very low over the last few years, it’s only the last few months after the pandemic has finished everybody came out and went nuts.”

He added: “We’re not doing this just because we’re under scrutiny, we’re doing it because we just want the business to succeed and we want people to come out, have a drink, enjoy themselves, without getting in a fight.”

Mr Shipley, premises licence holder, added Mr Morrison is committed to working at the site and thinks he’s “good for the job”.

He said: “I expect him to go to work and get the job done, make sure everything is right, the same as me.”

Concerns had also been raised by police over Mr Morrison previously being listed as supervisor at Jungle Bar, which faced two licensing hearings last year after reports of fights, thefts, assaults and criminal damage.

However Mr Morrison said he only did this temporarily, while the next supervisor was supposed to be receiving training, and he also at the time had healthcare commitments at home.

He added it was a “mistake” to agree to the role, which was a “complete nightmare”, noting he did not know the historical problems Jungle Bar faced.

The committee heard following the decision a new designated premises supervisor for Joseph’s Bar will need to be named.

Mr Shipley and Mr Morrison are able to appeal the ruling if they wish.

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