A PARISH council launched legal action after RMBC’s licensing board granted an alcohol permit — with the chairman of both being the same councillor.
The licence for forthcoming restaurant Seasons, Wickersley, was approved last August — the first after Cumulative Impact Zone was imposed to limit the effects of the night-time economy on the village.
Wickersley Parish Council was concerned that the conditions imposed were not sufficient to prevent an escalation of noise and other nuisance.
An appeal against the decision was lodged and set to be heard at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court.
Cllr Sue Ellis, who chairs both the parish council and RMBC licensing, said: “Where Wickersley Parish Council objects, 99 per cent of the time I will side with the parish and speak to the committee as a parish councillor.
“I don’t sit on the committee which hears the case for RMBC. And if I speak as parish council chair, as I go into the room I will introduce myself as that but also tell everybody there that I’m also chair of licensing.
“I don’t tend to sit on anything that’s in my ward. We also have a solicitor for the borough council, so if anyone forgets to introduce themselves properly, they bring that up.
“It’s not an unusual position to be in, generally. But Seasons was a quite unusual in that we looked at challenging the licensing decision.”
Rob Felstead, a Rotherham Democratic Party candidate challenging for the Wickersley North ward, called the matter a waste of public money.
He said: “For what it is worth, I do not think Wickersley Parish Council had a leg to stand on if the court case had have been fully concluded.
“The business owner has reduced the noise of the courtyard by converting an outdoor drinking area into an indoor restaurant, lessening the impact to neighbours.
“We should be working with considerate businesses, not trying to drive them away and cause them hardship with legal and solicitors fees.”
He added: “What makes this one particularly weird is that Cllr Ellis chairs both sides. I just have an image of her running in and out of the witness box to answer her own questions.
“It would be comical, except that there is no winner here, the local taxpayer could only lose and multiplied twice as both RMBC and the parish would recoup costs through council tax precept.
“What is really worrying is that Wickersley Parish Council have kept this a secret and excluded the public and the press from knowing anything about it.
“Although the case has since been dropped and relatively small amounts have been spent, unfortunately for Wickersley residents, it was not before a precept was agreed to uplift the parish council element.”
The cost incurred for lodging the appeal was £60.
Parish clerk Carol Lavell said: “The parish council took the decision to withdraw the appeal following assurances by Seasons that they would operate in a responsible manner to ensure no further impact would be felt by the local neighbourhood.
“We also took account of the restrictions that the pandemic has imposed on the hospitality industry.
“Furthermore, we are mindful that the parish council are able to trigger a review of the licence should problems occur in the future.”