A man who built a bar in his garden over lockdown had his application to sell alcohol at a house party rejected by a Lambeth licensing sub-committee on Tuesday (May 11).  

John Morrison, who lives in a shared house in Thurlow Park ward, is planning a large party with up to 100 people to celebrate his and his housemate’s birthdays.  

He applied for a Temporary Event Notice (TEN) to the council to sell alcohol at the bash from midday on July 10 to 7am on July 11 – the Prime Minister hopes the majority of lockdown restrictions will be lifted by June 21.  

Temporary Event Notices

When a premises is not licensed, people can apply for TENs to grant temporary licences for smaller/infrequent events for a period of no more than 168 consecutive hours. 

What was before the sub-committee on Tuesday was an objection to the TEN from the Metropolitan Police and the council’s public protection department. 

A licensing sub-committee must consider any objection received and issue a counter notice to the applicant if it believes the TEN would harm a licensing objective – the application will be refused if a counter notice is issued.   

The application 

Mr Morrison said he applied to sell alcohol to up to 100 people because he thought a lot of people would want to come after not seeing each other for so long during the pandemic.  

But both the police and public protection were concerned that the 7am finishing hour “could increase the risk of noise complaints, ASB and high intoxication levels”. 

Asked why he applied for a TEN, Mr Morrison said: “As many people did during lockdown, I and my fellow flatmates built a lovely bar in the garden, which has been of great use to us.” 

He explained there have been noise and security issues at previous parties with strangers following guests into the house after they’ve been out to buy alcohol.  

“The main question is where will people be buying their alcohol, whether they can do it in the house, which is why I applied for this event notice, or whether people will have to go to the off-licences,” Mr Morrison said. 

He said he was happy to reduce the hours applied for given the concerns of the police and council. 

On the up to 100 people capacity, he said: “I applied for higher because I believe that genuinely more people will want to come because they haven’t seen each other since before Covid.  

“But in terms of the concerns around the number of people I’m happy to discuss that as well.  

“69 people have currently said that they’re coming. However, from that I would expect about 20 people not to turn up anyway because they can’t be bothered to schlep down to south London,” he said.

Mr Morrison also said he would close the back garden to people at 11pm.

“We’ve got one direct neighbour - I’ve already spoken to her. She’s happy for it to go ahead – her response was essentially ‘you’re young, have fun’.

“I think she’s moderately deaf so it doesn’t really affect her quite so much,” he said.

He said noise “would largely come from outside” in the back garden.

“Obviously lots of people in the garden late would cause nuisance so I’ve tried to work around that by trying to close the back garden at 11pm.

“It’s something we’ve managed previously quite well,” Mr Morrison said.

He also said if there was an unexpected change in Covid regulation, he would cancel or reschedule the party.

PC Dave Watson spoke on behalf of the Met Police.

He said: “One major aspect [Mr Morrison] failed to cover was how security was going to be managed at this event.

“The applicant applied for alcohol to be supplied until 7am – that's quite considerable and there was no offer of how this would be managed by way of security.”

It emerged during the meeting that Mr Morrison had reached out to try to discuss how the application could be improved, but PC Watson did not engage with the matter – he said he thought it was up to the applicant to offer different hours.

The committee issued the counter notice, but urged Mr Morrison to reapply with conditions already agreed with the police and council.

Chair Cllr Fred Cowell said: “The committee’s decision is to issue to counter notice against this event, meaning that the temporary event notice is declined.

“The committee’s reasons for this are as follows; we do not feel that the notice as it currently stands meets the licensing objectives of preventing public nuisance and there are outstanding issues relating to some of this application which were raised.  

“We would like to say that we do accept that the applicant wished to remove a large number of the items which were objected to by the police. 

“We would encourage the applicant to reapply for a TEN with that in mind and to work constructively with the police prior to submitting an application on conditions that would be appropriate […]” 

Cllr Cowell also commended Mr Morrison for seeking a TEN in the first place.