Club's victory in pavilion licence battle
A FOOTBALL club has won the right to sell alcohol at its pavilion in Soundwell, despite fears it would become a “speakeasy”.
Councillors approved the application for Bristol Rovers Supporters Junior Football Club in Church Road, restricting it to training sessions and matches only.
A similar bid was rejected last year, despite receiving no objections from the police or regulatory services.
Ward councillor Ian Boulton told South Gloucestershire Council's licensing sub-committee that residents and nearby St Stephen's church had raised concerns, including over parking.
He told the remote hearing: “The key concerns of neighbours, including the church, are that it seems peculiar to have effectively a changing room and small pavilion area to be licensed for alcohol and an off-licence.
“They are concerned it will become a speakeasy, a drinking den, in such a residential area and what sort of message this sends about alcohol by a junior football club.”
Bristol Rovers Supporters vice-chairman Nick Hammond said the club had more than 300 junior members. It had expanded from its main site at Southey playing fields in Kingswood, which has had an alcohol licence for many years, and members wanted the same facilities in Soundwell.
Mr Hammond said: “Literally 100 metres up the road is a local pub. We have no intention of competing with it or being anything like a pub or an off-licence. It will only be open to our members or those using our facilities. We are not endorsing anyone coming to use it as a drinking establishment.”
He said on-site drinking would be limited to the clubhouse and a hard standing area around the building, and that no glass would be used.
Mr Hammond said the pavilion would also have a small cafe serving sandwiches and pastries, which would be open to everyone.
The club maintains the fields by agreement with the council, which axed its playing fields and pavilions budget under austerity measures in 2017.
“I don’t want to alienate the community whatsoever,” said Mr Hammond.
He said the club had agreed with the council that land near the play area at the bottom of the site would provide 50 parking spaces and that the club would create a secure walkway from the main road to the play park.
A letter of support from the council’s place maintenance coordinator said the site would have lost formal football provision and the pavilion would have been mothballed without the club's involvement since 2017.
Granting the application, panel chairman Keith Burchell said alcohol sales would be restricted to training sessions and matches.
He said the additional parking mitigated concerns about traffic.
By Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service