A Blackpool bar owner has vowed to take on Blackpool Council over threats to shut down his business.
Stephen Hadfield opened the Lazy Toad, in the former AJ’s Bistro in Topping Street late last year,
But he’s now been told by authorities he may have to close as he doesn’t have planning permission to operate as a drinking establishment.
Mr Hadfield, who previously ran the Cedar Tavern and Bierkeller, says he could lose more than £75,000 if he is forced to shut and believes the council is ‘out to shut him down’.
Blackpool Council says that although Mr Hadfield has the right licence, he does not have permission to change the use of the premises from a restaurant to a pub.
Mr Hadfield, who admits his premises do not currently serve food, said: “I can’t believe they have told me I will have to shut down.
“I’ve not had it in writing yet but that is what they have said.
“I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong, I really don’t know why they are doing this.
“I applied for a minor change to the licence, the police objected so I made it a major change instead.
“That was passed, I’ve done everything I was asked to do, I’ve made all the changes they wanted, I’ve not had any problems.
Mr Hadfield first became aware of the planning issue when he was advised about complaints about lights outside the bar. He claims planning officials have told him there is ‘no way’ he will be given permission to convert the former bistro into a bar.
He said: “I’m in for £50,000 with Same Day Beer, I’ve spent £25,000 on the place.
“I’ve put my own money into the place and now I’m told this.
“Why didn’t they raise the planning issue when I was sorting the licence?
“I’m ready to fight this because I stand to lose a lot.”
Mr Hadfield, whose experience in the Blackpool pub trade stretches back to 2003, says regular clients have put their names to a petition to keep the bar open.
He insists there have not been any issues with police and that he has established a steady customer base.
But Blackpool Council is clear on its stance, saying no matter what licensing rules Mr Hadfield complies with, the Lazy Toad falls foul of planning laws.
Coun Mark Smith, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Enterprise and Economic Development, said: “This building has planning permission to run as a food and drink establishment, not as a place predominantly for drinking, which is how the property is currently run.
“We have advised the owner that he cannot legally run the establishment as it is. He can either run it as a food and drink establishment or he can apply for planning permission for a change of use to the property, although there is already a saturation of drinking venues on Topping Street.
“We are happy to work with him to advise on turning the building into an accepted use, such as a café, restaurant or even a shop, but not as a bar.”