52 Things - Number 44: Get a premises license

Overview and Background:

Getting a premises license that covers the sale of alcohol can immediately increase the appeal and revenue of your venue. No one can testify to this fact more than Copt Hewick Village Hall, on the outskirts of Ripon, who were facing a year on year decline in their bookings, usage and capital before their purchase of a license a few years ago. They have now increased their turnover by five-fold.

The approach: 

Facing a grim situation, the committee called a crisis meeting. With the closure of their village pub, there had been a decline in interaction amongst residents in the community and an increase in isolation, particularly for the more elderly. The committee came up with the idea of ‘monthly pub nights’ that transformed the hall into a pub  – at first taking out temporary licenses to achieve this – before it became such a huge success that the hall decided to purchase the full premises license.

At first offering drinks through the hatch in the kitchen, Paul Venner, Copt Hewick’s treasurer, explains how this grew into a larger operation with the building of a fully-equipped bar, made possible through a grant from the Lottery’s Awards for All scheme – which is another of our big ideas for communities to try.

“Although the alcohol license is expensive to get, it lasts ten years and it has turned things around for us. I did the one-day course to become a license-holder and we also applied to Awards for All to install a bar. It has everything you need – tills, fridges and room for storage of drinks – all in our village hall.”

The dual-approach of the alcohol license and the building of the bar means that Copt Hewick has been able to transform itself into a successful business, with the capacity to host weddings, parties and functions as well as continuing its monthly pub nights. The village hall is back in profit.

Copt Hewick sought funding advice from Harrogate and Ripon CVS, who were able to look over their funding application to the Lottery and give tips and guidance, which is a good reminder that it is always worth remembering that help is out there from other organisations and charities.

“There were not many issues, everything was quite straightforward once you got on with it. It has made a massive difference to the hall but also given back to the community in a big way. People get to know each other, older people get out of the house, and new arrivals in the village can come along and meet everyone.

What next: 

“Going forward, we have lots of ideas to keep us busy, as there is always something to do when running a village hall. We have just installed WiFi and a new sound system, and we’re looking at improving the insulation and building an extension. Our new success means that we can now consider all of these things, and I would tell people to be brave and don’t be afraid of the process it takes to get a license or apply for funding.”

We can provide you with information on both premises licenses and alcohol in village halls and community buildings. This is free-of-charge to RAY members and one of the many benefits of taking membership with us.  

To read more about Awards for All, and how it could benefit your community, read more success stories here.