Plans to re-open the former Britannia Bar in Ardrossan’s Princes Street were rejected last week by North Ayrshire Licensing Board, after a Police report revealed one of the people involved had previously served a lengthy prison sentence for drug-related crimes.
The Board, meeting last Tuesday (November 19), considered an application for a Transfer of Premises Licence in the name of Ardrossan woman Marian Small. However, Ms Small was not in attendance at the meeting and the application was supported by Mr Gary McKenna.
At the September 30 meeting of the Licensing Board Mr McKenna had been granted a Variation of Premises Licence in relation to the bar at 69/71 Princes Street, Ardrossan. The variation to the licence principally involved allowing bar meals to be sold, changes to the previously-agreed layout of the premises and a change of name to ‘Latrobes’. The Britannia, which had also traded as Watt’s Bar and the Lord Carson, has lain empty for a number of years. Works to renovate the property began a couple of months ago.
A report from legal officers to the Licensing Board in September explained that a Premises Licence had been granted to Tyne & Tay Taverns Ltd in January 2009, and that this was subsequently transferred to Abacus Estates Ltd in October 2009.
The officers’ report also stated, “This Variation application is not made by the Premises Licence Holder [Abacus] but by Gary McKenna who has the authority of the Premises Licence Holder to do so.” It was then recorded that, as of September 12 2013, “Mr McKenna was not currently the tenant of the Premises, but it was expected that a lease would be signed in a few days. Once a lease is in place, Mr McKenna will seek: (a) a Transfer of the Licence from Abacus to him, and (b) a further Variation, so as to nominate a Premises Manager.”
However, when Mr McKenna returned to the Licensing Board last week, he was made aware that Police Scotland had submitted a report raising concerns over his suitability to be involved in the running of licensed premises.
The Police report revealed that in April 2005 Gary McKenna had been sentenced to 13 years and 9 months in prison after being convicted at Guernsey Royal Court of importing onto the island £200,000 worth of the Class A drug Ecstasy. An accomplice, Christopher Taylor, was sentenced to 9 years and 6 months for acting as a ‘minder’ for McKenna. Both men were convicted of possession with intent to supply the drug.
After receiving the Police report, councillors sitting on the Licensing Board agreed to refuse the application for a Transfer of Premises Licence in relation to the former Britannia Bar. Applicants have the right to appeal.
Gary McKenna is originally from Teeside in the north of England.