Vicar defends bid to serve booze in church

Drink up: Rev Chris Scargill, vicar of St Thomas Parish Church, St Annes
Drink up: Rev Chris Scargill, vicar of St Thomas Parish Church, St Annes

A reverend has defended an application for a licence to serve alcohol at his church.

Rev Christopher Scargill said the application, for St Thomas’ Church in St Annes, to supply alcohol between 8am and midnight seven days a week, was intended to provide flexibility, and if granted by Fylde Council would only be used occasionally.

But it has been met with surprise by one councillor, who called the application “a little excessive”.

Rev Scargill said: “I would imagine the application is for the church hall, rather than the church.

“We rent out the church hall for people to use for parties and other events.

“I could not say why it starts at 8am. I imagine it is the time on the application form.

“I cannot imagine in any circumstances we would sell alcohol at that time.

“But we do not want to find ourselves in a position where we could not cater for people’s expectations.

“We want the church to be the centre of community life and people to use the facilities.”

In the form, which includes applying for the playing of films, live music and indoor sports, church warden Kath Asquith said: “Notices shall be displayed at public exits, in a clear and prominent position, requesting that patrons respect the needs of any local residents, and leave the premises and the area quietly.

“Whenever regulated entertainment is taking place, regular assessments shall be made of any noise emanating from the premises.”

But St Annes town mayor Coun Ed Nash said the application needs a re-think, urging the church to work with Fylde Council planners to condense the plans.

He added: “I have never heard of the Church of England doing that before.

“I think they might be better off modifying it to certain days of the week – maybe Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

“They have put a block application out, a catch-all to get the maximum time possible, but it does seem a little excessive.

“My advice would be to go and talk to the borough officers and look to use temporary licenses for early morning events.”

Fylde Council is expected to rule on the licence application in the coming weeks.