Hotel loses licence after owner claimed lockdown drinkers 'are in my social bubble'

Jimmy Nsubuga
·2 min read
Police raided The Grosvenor House Hotel, in North Parade, Skegness, in November (SWNS)
Police raided The Grosvenor House Hotel, in North Parade, Skegness, in November. (SWNS)

A hotel owner has lost his alcohol licence after telling police officers drinkers found inside the venue were in his social bubble.

Police raided the Grosvenor House Hotel, in North Parade, Skegness, after a group posted Facebook pictures of themselves enjoying an illegal lockdown booze-up in November.

Owner Russell Sparkes initially told police the people drinking at the hotel were in his social bubble so were allowed but his story changed when authorities seized CCTV that showed him behind the bar, the Lincolnite reported.

Footage showed him serving alcohol to customers on 13 and 14 November – almost two weeks into the second lockdown which closed all pubs - with at least 15 men packed into the venue.

Police raided the hotel after several pictures were posted on Facebook (SWNS)
Police raided the hotel after several pictures were posted on Facebook (SWNS)

The alcohol licensing team from Lincolnshire Police have now successfully applied for the hotel to lose its alcohol licence.

The ban was agreed following a digital hearing of Skegness District Council licensing sub-committee on Tuesday.

Sparks has 21 days to appeal the decision.

Police had received a photograph from a Facebook account showing a group of men drinking pints and posing for photos.

The group posted snaps on Facebook showing men slumped in chairs surrounded by empty pint glasses under the caption: “What lockdown?” followed by laughing emojis.

Sergeant Kim Enderby, alcohol licensing manager for Lincolnshire Police, said: “I thought after 29 years in the police there wasn’t a lot left to shock me but the way in which this venue was operating was awful.”

She added: “Obviously this hotel bar should have been closed; people should not have been allowed inside to drink alcohol.

“But of equal concern was the total lack of social distancing measures in place.

“At one point over 10 men were crammed round a small table drinking and posing for what we think were the Facebook posts.

“There were no face masks being worn by customers or staff, nothing had been put in place to try and prevent the spread of the virus.”

Up to 15 men packed into the bar (SWNS)
Up to 15 men packed into the bar. (SWNS)

Sgt Enderby said the males were seen to be drinking and smoking while children sat and ate at a table behind them.

She said Sparks claimed it was an error of judgment on his part to open the bar.

Sgt Enderby said: “The blatant disregard for both the closure order and social distancing measures demonstrates a lack of management and control over these premises.”

The second lockdown came into force at midnight on 4 November which ordered all restaurants, bars and pubs to close except for takeaways.

Watch: What you can and can't do during England's third national lockdown