Brighton bar has been operating as a music venue under radar for years, councillors told

Pipeline Panel | Picture: LDR servicePipeline Panel | Picture: LDR service
Pipeline Panel | Picture: LDR service
A bar with a restaurant-style drinks licence has been operating as a grassroots music venue under the radar for seven years, councillors were told.

The discrepancy came to light during a routine inspection earlier this year, prompting the owner to apply to Brighton and Hove City Council to regularise the position.

The Pipeline, at 6 Little East Street, Brighton, was meant to be a food-led venue, according to council and police licensing officers, but has instead become a magnet for aspiring musicians.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

After a licensing inspection in February, the owner Thomas Evrenos submitted an application to vary the venue’s licence conditions.

The application went before councillors today (Tuesday 9 July) when a licensing panel heard objections from Sussex Police and the council who said that they had found several breaches of the venue’s licence conditions.

The three panel members – Labour councillors John Hewitt, David McGregor and Alison Thomson – also heard from Mr Evrenos, 63.

They were told that officers went to the venue on Friday 16 February but found no signs informing customers that they would be refused service if they were intoxicated, using drugs, under-age or disorderly.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The licence required full main courses to be available until 11pm from Sunday to Thursday and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

It also required light snacks and sandwiches to be offered until the Sunday to Thursday midnight closing time – and 2am at weekends. But officers were told that food was available only until 9.30pm.

The licence also required customers to be served by waiting staff but there was no table service and the premises licence to be on display but it wasn’t.

Sussex Police licensing officer Claire Abdelkader said that there had been an increasing number of incidents in the East Street area at weekends although none appeared to be linked to the Pipeline.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

She recommended keeping two security staff on the doors if the venue continued to stay open late without food or music on offer.

The force had said that it one member of security staff would be acceptable if the venue stopped serving at 11pm.

The police did not object to the upstairs stage becoming a permanent fixture so that the Pipeline could continue to operate as a grassroots music venue.

Ms Abdelkader said: “The application does have the potential risk to undermine the prevention of crime and disorder, public nuisance and public safety licensing objectives.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“This is a unique situation in that the premises has been operating as a live music venue for a number of years under the radar with minimal police interaction or intervention.”

The force’s main concern was the prospect of people drinking for two hours after music ended at weekends and for an hour on other nights.

In formal papers, Sussex Police asked the panel to set a condition that the sale of drinks stop at 11pm on Sundays to Thursdays and at midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

Councillor Thomson said: “I’m slightly confused. How come Thomas (Mr Evrenos) been operating with impunity for seven years and nobody has noticed?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“This has all gone under the radar. Is that normal? I just don’t understand how. I find it peculiar none of this has come to light before.”

Ms Abdelkader said that the police licensing team was small and tended to respond to complaints or intelligence.

Mr Evrenos said that he wanted to keep the venue open with drink available until midnight from Sunday to Thursday and until 1am at weekends.

He told the panel that he had worked in banking for 20 years before opening the Pipeline, in London, as a retirement project in 2009.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In 2016, he moved to Brighton and took over the Little East Street venue, formerly the Northern Lights, which had a more troubled licensing history.

He said: “Pipeline is not about vertical drinking. It’s about musicians meeting and having a good time and playing their instruments.

“We don’t do dancing. We don’t do DJs. We do alternative music and DIY music. We are one of the few places in Brighton that provides young newly starting musicians with a place to play their instruments.”

Councillor McGregor said that the panel’s concern was about trust because so many serious yet basic licensing requirements were ignored. Mr Evrenos said that all of the paperwork was in order.

The panel retired to make their decision which should be made public within five working days.

Related topics: