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Hotel Under Fire as Licence is Suspended

CLAYTON Lodge has had its licence suspended by Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council following a detailed investigation into complaints of crime, under-age drinking, health and hygiene issues at the hotel.

The decision was taken by members of the Licensing Sub-Committee following a probe by police, the fire service and environmental health officers into a catalogue of incidents dating back to April 2016.

Issues included:

  • reports of crime and disorder
  • positive high readings recorded on drug swab tests carried out at the hotel
  • links to child sexual exploitation cases being investigated by police
  • health and hygiene problems – including a ‘filthy’ kitchen and ‘unhygienic handling of food’
  • non-compliance with fire regulations
  • selling alcohol to youngsters under 18.

A report was compiled by the Council, in conjunction with Staffordshire Police and Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service, as part of a review of the premises licence at the hotel – formerly the Great National Hotel – ordered in February this year. It detailed how police officers visited Clayton Lodge to investigate four cases of child sexual exploitation linked to the venue found staff were 'generally young, unprofessional and poorly trained' and had allowed older men to check in with young girls without being challenged.

The hotel’s CCTV system was judged to be ‘entirely faulty’, while failing door entry systems made access to all bedrooms impossible.

The report also listed numerous police call-outs to incidents of disorder at the premises between April 2016 and January 2017, including a fight involving 50 young people attending an 18th birthday party there last October.

Similarly, fire service officers attending the hotel in November and December 2016 recorded a number of serious breaches, including missing fire extinguishers, fire alarm faults, a lack of fire doors and furniture stored in a fire escape.

Skips were located in the rear garden of the premises, with large amounts of paperwork – including customers’ personal details and card payment records – strewn across the garden.

Meanwhile, the Council’s environmental health officers discovered numerous breaches of health and hygiene standards on successive visits to the hotel; a ‘filthy’ kitchen, ‘generally poor’ standards in rooms, faulty wiring, untested electrical equipment, evidence of unhygienic food handling and other problems. 

Following submission of the report, a one-day hearing was held at the Civic Offices in Merrial Street, Newcastle, after which councillors decided to suspend the hotel’s licence for a maximum period of three months, in order to enable the licence conditions to be complied with.

Those conditions include ensuring that the CCTV system is in working order and that the hotel’s current designated premises supervisor – whom the Licensing Sub-Committee considered was not ‘a fit and proper person to hold that position’ – be replaced.

Councillors have also ordered that the hotel’s premises licence be modified, to include the following conditions:

  1. That no ‘all-inclusive party nights’ or similar events containing irresponsible drinks promotions shall be held on the premises.
  2. That all staff shall be trained on child sexual exploitation (including how to spot it and who to report it to) by a body recognised by Staffordshire Police and/or the Licensing Authority’s Partnership Department.
  3. That the reception area of the hotel must be staffed at all times, particularly during the evening .
  4. That no gaming machines shall be installed at the premises.
  5. That any recommendations raised by the Fire Authority shall be addressed within the timescales set by the authority.
  6. That details of hotel guests must be taken, to include names, addresses and ages, and that such details shall be supplied on request to the Police or Local Authority for the purposes of intelligence and/or investigation of any criminal offence.