High Town restaurant gets go ahead despite objections

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A Luton restaurant has been granted a licence for its new premises, despite an objection from the local authority’s public protection team.

The Vault Lounge is relocating to 19-21 from 88 High Town Road to expand its business.

A meeting of the local authority’s licensing panel was told it is a West African restaurant serving mainly African dishes and drinks.

But there were two objections to the licence, while the council’s own public protection team is concerned it would contradict a recent policy change.

Under a system ranking parts of the town on their suitability for alcohol serving premises, High Town Road is in “stress area four of the matrix”, according to the team’s report to the panel.

The applicant and chef of the Vault Lounge, Eyitouyo Ejuetami, was asking for live music from 9pm to 11pm on Saturdays, and recorded music from 11pm to 3am on Fridays and Saturdaysas well as food to be served until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays, with alcohol from 10am to 2am Fridays and Saturdays, and from midday until 11pm on Sundays.

Mr Ejuetami said: “We don’t operate any kind of club. It’s mainly a restaurant and bar.

“Soundproofing is installed in the restaurant and we have a double door system to dampen noise coming out of the premises.”

He said there would also be security staff at the entrance to the restaurant.

The council’s senior licensing officer Aaron Wiltshire said allowing the permissions beyond midnight would be “contrary to our own policy.”

In a letter objecting to the proposal, James Fake, the director of community store Ahh Geek Out, said: “The Vault Lounge at 88 High Town Road was frequently an issue for shop owners and residents,”

Resident Bridget Bloomfield complained about safety, saying: “You can’t walk down the road at night.”

She has experienced people “hitting our back door, condoms, my parking space and a neighbour’s were being used as a toilet”, as well as drugs and needles being discarded.

She said she had also found someone bleeding outside her gate.

But committee chair Councillor Mahmood Hussain, said: “We have agreed to give you the licence until 1.30am for the music and alcohol sales on Fridays and Saturdays, with the premises to close at 2am.

“I must warn you if for any reason you are not abiding by the conditions of the licence then it can come back for review.”