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The Prestatyn Licensing Case.

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The Prestatyn Licensing Case. Extraordinary Opposition. Remarkable Allegations against Brewers. Sensational Incidents. Is Prestatyn on the Wane? [BY OUR OWN REPORTER.] -I HE tremendous opposition levied at the trans- er of the licence of the Railway Hotel, Pres- tatyn, caused intense interest to be manifested I? the case, and on Tuesday, when the applica- 10r\ came on for hearing the seconJ time, the court house was well filled,, the audience containing a fair sprinkling of local publicans. Complications set in owing to the stiff attitude of ocal temperance reformers, who embraced the situation to object to the licence on the ground that it was unnecessary for the requirements of ? ne;ghbourhood. Legal objections were also aken to ihe transfer, and it was alleged at the ftrst hearing that the Official Receiver, as the rustee of the outgoing tenant (Brewer House), ad endeavoured to usurp the prerogatives of the ench, in giving permission to the new appli- cant (Mr Fenton) to sell. This statement accounted for the appearance of Mr Llewelyn Jones, who refuted in drastic terms the ^legations made against him. Altogether the setting was full of sensations, commencing with a grave charge against the owners of the house question of deliberately defrauding the In- and Revenue, a statement by a member of the ocal council to the effect that the town was fOlngdown through the action cf certain land- ords, and TERMINATING WITH A SCENE, caused by a professional gentleman describing a ^verend witness as a liar. Eventually after a ot °f empty verbosity the licence was granted. Mr Bromley said he appeared to make an aPplication for the transfer of the licence of the Kaihvay Hotel to Air Thos. Fenton, who was now the occupier. Mr LI. Hugh Jones said he appeared in his official capacity as Receiver in Bankruptcy, and trustee for the outgoing tenant, to support t'18 application. Mr Gamlin said he appeared to oppose the granting of the transfer on behalf of the Rev W. Davies, Wesleyan minister, of Prestatyn. Mr Bromley Is he a ratepayer? Mr Gamlin: I cannot say; I did not inquire Into his qualifications. Mr Bromley: Perhaps you'd rather not. (Laughter.) Mr Gamlin: I also appear for Mr William Marshall. A question has been raised as to whether Mr Davies is a-ratepayer. Mr Bromley said the old tenant of the hotel had become a bankrupt, and the Official Re- aver, who was his trustee, was there to re- Present him, and consented to the transfer. He ad excellent testimonials as to Mr Fenton's "â 'haracter, and the deputy chief constable had rnade careful inquiries himself. If necessary, Ir Hughes would go into the box, and state his InqUIries had been satisfactory. Similar cases |° this one were constantly happening, and jitters as to character were put in, and accepted, in this case he had TAKEN UNUSUAL PRECAUTIONS to see that everything was right. He had re- ceived a notice of opposition signed by the Rev W. Davies, a local Wesleyan minister, and he hoped he would have the pleasure of cross- eXamining him. But as their learned clerk ^ould point out the grounds of objection raised In the notices had no bearing upon the present application. The Chairman Please, don't labour the case much, after you have proved the respect- a Uity of your client. Mr Fenton, the applicant, said he had had Onsiderable experience in the licensing trade; caving kept houses in Oldham, Heywood, and ü er parts of Lancashire. bCross-examined: He had been in the district out .five years, and was a member of the Vet- rmary Association. At the present moment ^as the manager, but he had the option of becorn ing a tenant immediately the licence was Ranted. The brewers had undertaken to. make Uii a tenant. His wife was a daughter of Mr Ellis, J.P., of Abergele. Mi; Gamlin said he was quite prepared to mit that Mr Fenton was a most respectable and quite competent to hold a licence. Q,1/1 LI. Hugh Jones said he should like to Wrh position clear to the Bench in view of la at "Was said, and very foolishly said, on the _st occasion, about his attempt to usurp the K 'er°gatives of the bench. He need hardly say p a* .nothing was further from his mind. The asSl £ i°n which he took up was exactly the same that which was recognised by the Licensing ^ct- When the LATE TENANT BECAME A BANKRUPT, adopted the course he always took, and **nged at once for the transfer of the stock ord tures» which were valued by his officer in suft t^e tra(ie house might not Sj, er interference. As a public official he con- jic ere<i it his duty acting on the theory that a WSS a convenience to public, to do 0p hat lay in his power to facilitate the keeping Hk n-p* ^censed premises, especially in a place e 1 rest^tyn, and at a time like Christmas. hankaS most desirable that all the signs of a slj r^Ptcy in a watering-place like Prestatyn f0r be got rid of as soon Ss possible, and 3s n reason he facilitated matters as much He, therefore, asked the Bench to und ^eence to Air Fenton as his nominee jje er the section referred to by Mr Bromley, the Would to point out to their worships that extraordinary deadlock and inconvenience w°uld naturally ensue if such objections °f V9°nstantly made. He had read the notices ti0nbJection, and there was not a single objec- the 0 the proposed tenant Or against the way grou"°Use had been conducted. It was a general urâed objection which might be possibly Ije ,at. a general annual licensing meeting, as Admitted very strongly that such objections his Pla?ed great difficulties in the way of certfLi licensed houses, and it would dilute ^e.a great hardship to creditors in s on licensed property if they were to be MET WITH SUCH OBJECTIONS, a sheer waste of time. W* cn Stanley Smith, manager for Messrs F. they wmeS an(^ 9wners °* the house, said tenant 616 PrePared to accept Mr Fenton as a Croâas so°n as the licence was transferred. app-examined He had just recently been heloneed ,manager of the firm, although he had son wv t ° .^or ^ve or six years. Air Robin- orrnajy the manager. Mr STARTLING ALLEGATIONS. that anf.h^in sa^ the legislature had provided 1'cence if > C;Ould oppose the transfer of a Previo\\s W&S t0 Prove the misconduct of the tenant of "^e could prove that the late i^wsr House had been guilty of mis- conduct. According to his instructions, he and Messrs Soames and Co. had been guilty of mis- conduct by making a false declaration to the Inland Revenue authorities showing the rent, which was really £130, to be only £95, in order to save the licence duties, thereby defrauding the revenue and defrauding the local authorities of its proper rates and taxes. Mr Bromley objected to these references. As a matter of fact, the excise authorities had now the case under investigation, as his friend had taken good care to bring it before them in ac- cordance with his threat. He understood, how- ever, that MF F. W. SOAMES WAS A GENTLEMAN, that if there was anything in the allegation made by his friend, the money would be re- funded without any delay. But that was clearly a matter which had nothing to do with the licen- sing authorities. Mr Gamlin: But it is clearly laid down that it has something to do with it Mr Bromley said his friend was asking the Bench to put Messrs Soames and Co. on their trial. The Chairman: You don't allege that Mr Fenton is to be punished for any misconduct that might have been done by his predecessor? Mr Gamlin said the applicant so far had no interest in the licence, had paid no goodwill, and, therefore, had nothing to lose. The Chairman The broad principle is this, that either this licensed house is necessary for the town or not, and you practically ask the Bench to stultify themselves because they re- cently wanted a new full licence. Mr Gamlin said he was going on the broad principle that the licence was not required for the wants of the neighbourhood. He would also prove that Mr House had been guilty of misconduct. That being so, they could refuse to renew it if they liked. In that case Mr Fen- ton would not lose anything, as he had paid no goodwill. Air Bromley You want to take a living from a straightforward man. You say he is a man of good character, and at the same time you don't give him a chance. The Chairman said the Bench were unani- mously of opinion that they saw no reason why they should refuse to grant Mr Fenton the transfer because of any misconduct on the part of the late tenant. Mr Gamlin submitted that the Bench could not come to such a conclusion without hearing the evidence. They actually decided that point without hearing a single witness. He respect- fully submitted that THE BENCH MT'H' NOT act on any local information which had come accidentally to their knowledge as to whether it was necessary or not. He had a body of gen- tlemen who resided in Prestatyn, and who knew the wants of the place ââ Mr Bromley He is dealing with the matter as if it were a new licence. Mr Gamlin proceeded to deal with his ob- jection. He contended that the Bench could not grant a licence to Mr Fenton, but only to the assignee of the bankrupt, who was, of course, the Official Receiver or to the person to whom the Receiver had assigned, by sale or otherwise, his interest in the licence. At present there was no evidence that the Official Receiver had actu- ally assigned anything to Mr Fenton, but instead of that it went to show that Messrs Soames were the peope to whom the assignment, if there was any, had been made. Air LI. Hugh Jones: I state emphatically that I have assigned my interest to Mr Fenton, the present applicant, under the section which is applicable. I said so before, but I am afraid my friend did not do me the honour of listening to what I said. Mr Gamlin said he was satisfied with that statement, and waived his objection on the point of law. The point he now urged was one as to the requirements of the neighbourhood. He believed when the application for the new hotel licence was made two years ago, that the agree- ments adduced in its favour were that there was not sufficient accommodation in the shape of rooms for the public who came to stay there. ltt was not alleged that there was not sufficient facilities for drinking, and, consequently, on the grounds mentioned, the licence was granted. He submitted that the POPULATION HAD NOT GROWN since that time, and he had respectable wit- nesses who would swear that this house was not wanted. It was doubtless an old-established hotel. It had been stated that a transfer sessions was not the most suitable occasion on which to make opposition of that character. He ventured to suggest that this was the very time when such opposition should be made, the time when the tenancy was changing hands, and not at the general annual licensing meeting, when a respectable licensee, who had kept a house perhaps for more than 20 years without a blemish, might be deprived of his licence, on the ground that there were too many. That was a great injustice and hardship, but in these cases there was no hardship. When the old tenant went out there was an end to the licence, so far as he was concerned. Mr Bromley: He cannot take it with him. Mr Gamlin said no injustice was done to a new applicant if they refused to transfer it to him, because he had paid no deposit. In fact, he was not in the same position as an ordinary tenant, who had to pay a large sum of money down for fixtures, and put his little "all" into it. Mr Bromley said applicant had paid a de- posit. Air Gamlin He is only a manager. Mr Bromley: Yes, until he gets the licence transferred. Mr Gamlin said he was within his rights to infer that A MANAGER PAID NO DEPOSIT. The only people who would suffer would be the brewers, who had recently paid a fabulous sum of money for the house, much more that its real actual value. I Air Wm. Marshall, Gronant-road, Prestatyn, was then called to give evidence to prove that the licence was not wanted. He had resided in the town since June, 1899. The house was closed during Christmas week, and everybody seemed to get as much as they required from other places. Cross-examined by Air Bromley Are you a total abstainer? No, I am not. j Very well, don't look so insulted. The bench won't think any less of you for it. (Laughter.) How long have you lived here? Since last June. And you Can come here and tell the bench that according to the requirements of the case this house is Wot wanted. How do you know? From what I can see. Did you sigp, this petition? No, 1 refused. That was because you took such an interest in the matter? (Laughter.) No; it was because I had hot been here very long. And yet you ftaVe foeeii here la-ng enough to give evidence? Yes. I don't mind giving evidence. What other licensed houses are there? Witness only knew of the Victoria, Railway Hotel, and the Cross Foxes. What is the population? I don't know. Yet you tell the jus-tices there are too many houses. I can't say how many visitors come here. But this is a rising seaside place? I have NOT SEEN IT RISE since I came. (Laughter.) Who asked you to sign the petition? Air Johnson. Who is in the employ of Mr Martin O'Connor? I don't know. Was he at the time? I can't say. Was he not a billiard marker at the Victoria? I couldn't tell you. Why, you know nothing about Prestatyn or the people. Go away. (Laughter.) Witness retired, looking very indignant. The Rev. A. W. Davies, Wesleyan minister, was the next witness. He came to Prestatyn the 4th of last September. Mr Gamlin Do you think this house is not required? Yes. Why? There are several reasons. Kindly tell us some. According to the numbers at the last census in 1891 the population was about 1,100. They had three licensed houses, two grocers' licenses and a Conservative Clubâ(laughter)âwhere drink could be obtained. Therefore, according to the population, he thought they could do without this one. Witness was IN CHARGE OF TWO CHAPELS. Mr Gamlin Are you giving evidence on their behalf? Air Bromley I object to that question. Mr Gamlin: I won't press it. I suppose (quietly) the Wesleyans in this town are pretty Mr Bromley: I object, sir. Mr Gamlin (resignedly) Very well: I won't press it. (Laughter.) Cross-examined by Mr Bromlev What do you know about the requirements of the neighbourhood? What I do know is sufficient to prove my case. (Laughter.) Are you going to be judge and witness? It is my experience. Are you a total abstainer? Yes. Do you object to public-houses on principle? Yes, more than that. (Laughter.) You would have every public-house swept away, I suppose? On certain conditions. And those are? I would provide hotels for the accommodation of visitors and people who are travelling. What is the Railway Hotel for? Does that not provide for commercial gentlemen? N o1. Have you been there to try? I have taken the word of people who have been there very often. I would allow one licence in a locality. Would you not give preference to one that had existed for a number of years? It depends upon the character of that place. Do you contribute anything to the rates? Not directly. Perhaps by your ability? I contribute towards associations which labour for the benefit of the country in this particular branch. Who is PAYING MR GAMLIN? I don't know. You signed the petition. Who asked you to sign? Johnson? No; another gentleman. Dr. Griffiths (a member of the Urban District Council) gave corroborative evidence. Cross-examined: Have you ever given evi- dence against this hotel? No, I have never been asked. Who asked you to come to-day? The gentleman who made the application. I represent several gentlemen. Now as (to the requirements of the neigh- bourhood. I suppose the population in summer is largely increased? Prestatyn Licensing Case THREE No; I don't think you will find 600 visitors here 111 August, at one time I mean. I know every house, and have made a careful calcula- tion. But during the last 18 months the place has increased? No, it has not. What, is it going down? Yes, it is. You, a member of the Urban Council, will swear that THE TOWN IS GOING DOWN? Well, you asked the question, and I must answer you. Why is it going down? I consider it is going down simply because the landlords have not the interest of the place at heart. Well, do you know the amount of money that has been spent on this hotel? Where about has it been spent? (Laughter.) I say that-the place is detrimental to the inter- ests of Prestatyn. You will never pass there on a Saturday without seeing crowds of people in front loafing about the corner, with the result that those people who have no interests in pub- lic-houses have to leave the parapet and go into the muddy road. There is more drunkenness in connection with that part of the town than in any part of Prestatyn. That is because the station is there? Yes, to; some extent. Witness complained that the town was under- policed, and said it was impossible for one policeman to do the work. A "SENSATION." A sensational incident now took place. Mr Gamlin said he wished to call attention o a serious matter which bad just occurred. It was important that the evidence of each witness who appeared before their worships should be given impartially and without the fear of inti- midation from anyone. A circumstance had just been brought to his notice which it was necessary should be looked into. When his client. Mr Davies, left the box, a gentleman sit- ting close to, and who ought to have known better, called ths rev. gentleman a d- liar. He (Mr Gamlin) considered it A MOST DISGRACEFUL PROCEEDING, and he asked the Bench to take notice of it. The Chairman Do you know who it was? Mr Davies I don't know his name, but that is the gentleman (pointing to Mr Hatherley Jones). Air Coward: Who is it? Cannot we have the name? Mr Gamlin Air Hatherley Jones. I think Air Jones should apologise to the court for having on the part of the Local Board to Mr Hesketh, and on the face of it that letter proves that there was nothing of the sort. Mr Pierce said it was only right that the mat- ter should be ventilated and the pros and cons fully" discussed. It was not right that only one letter should be read. There were two sides to every question. The Chairman: Yes, one is a white one, and the other a black one. (Laughter.) The Clerk: Mr Davies's letter was not answered in any shape or form. There was only a formal withdrawal of the plans. Air T. Evans: au have nothing else to pro- duce? The Clerk: No, sir. Mr Evans I remember Mr Wallis Davies tell- ing me that someone or other-I don't know whether it was the agentâhad come to his office and had taken the plans away. Of course, I was not a member of the Board then. The Chairman: I am positive it was only the stone houses that were to come down. Mr Pierce See the plans first. The Chairman They may have been altered now. (Laughter.) The subject then dropped.

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