A North London pub that broke lockdown rules under its former owner and has had ongoing issues with drugs and violence faces a battle to stay open after it was refused a late-night licence.

Brent Council’s licensing sub-committee blocked an application at The Field, in Neasden Lane, formerly known as Sal’s Bar, after historic concerns raised by the police and council officers. 

Under previous management, the bar had its licence revoked on three occasions, and was open when Covid lockdown rules were in place. Police have been called to the site on several occasions since September 2021, including to one incident where a customer threatened others with a bottle, and another where a very drunk couple appeared to be in charge of a baby.

There have been multiple reports of drug taking at the pub, while visitors are often excessively drunk. In one instance in February, a woman was “making threats to kill”.

Officers from both the police and Brent Council acknowledged past issues could not be attributed to the current management, but they still expressed fears that further problems could occur based on conversations with the new management team. 

They noted the area has long standing issues with crime and anti-social behaviour and suggested the applicant, Patrick Finn, did not have a firm grasp on how to address this. In his representations, Met Police licensing officer Paul Scott said: “There have been a number of crimes reported to police over the last few months and it is strongly felt that should this venue be given a licence that these types of crimes will continue as before. I have yet to be convinced that anything will change. 

“The Field is a small local pub that will attract the same type of clientele who will expect that the venue will be run as before. I am unsure as to what changes Mr Finn could bring to this premises that would uphold the licensing objectives.”

Brent Council’s licensing team also interviewed Mr Finn, where they too were left unconvinced by his ability to effectively manage the bar. Licensing officer Esther Chan said: “I have serious concerns with the applicant’s business plan for this premises and his understanding of the previous history, which may have a detrimental effect on promoting the licensing objectives. 

“It is questionable whether Mr Finn will have much involvement in the business and his answers to my questions contradict the information on application form.”

There were also concerns around the amount of time Mr Finn would spend at the pub, after he said he would try to be there “during busy times” on Friday and Saturday.  Mr Finn was adamant he would be a fit for The Field and would make sure any previous mistakes would not be repeated. 

He said: “I know myself that I can run the business 100 per cent without any crime coming from it.  I’ve dealt with it in the past and have never had to call the police. I know I’m in a different situation and will have to weed out some of the previous customers and unsatisfactory behaviour. I know that will take a week or two but I intend to do so and run the premises properly, as it should be run.”

The licensing committee appreciated Mr Finn’s “enthusiasm” for running the pub, but it also was worried about his knowledge of the problems in the area. It also was particularly concerned that he did not have a firm grasp of the four licensing objectives that are vital to running a safe premises in Brent and ultimately this was a key reason it voted to refuse the application.