The new chairman of Kingston Council’s licensing committee is a leading licensing expert who once helped notorious brawl nightclub Essence extend its opening hours.
But recently-elected Conservative Grove ward Councillor Phil Doyle does not believe his profession amounts to a conflict of interest with his new role.
Coun Doyle was elected chair of the committee at a meeting on June 5, where he did not declare he is director of PDL Consultants, a Surbiton-based legal firm specialising in licensing applications for pubs, clubs and restaurants.
Liberal Democrat Councillor Chrissie Hitchcock, who raised the issue at the meeting, said: “I challenged him because he didn’t declare an interest.
“I work for South West London Mental Health Trust, and I’ve had to declare an interest, so I can’t speak on mental health.
“I shall be pursuing this further.”
Away from his consultancy firm, Coun Doyle is a former head of licensing at Westminster City Council, and a lecturer in licensing law at Westminster University.
In May 2009, before he was elected, he acted as the agent for Ananda – later renamed Essence – when the Bucklands Wharf club successfully applied to extend its licensing hours to 3am.
The venue is currently seeking a judicial review of Kingston Council’s decision to revoke its license, following a reported 30-man brawl in December 2013.
Coun Doyle said: “I don’t have any business in Kingston and I haven’t for some time.
“They [Essence] asked me to speak on their behalf a few days before the hearing. They made the application themselves.
“What’s being forgotten is I also spent eight years working for a local authority.
Essence nightclub had its licence revoked after a brawl in December
“I think I’ve got a pretty good idea of how to balance local council’s interests with the applicant’s.”
Coun Doyle said that, if the Essence appeal came back to Kingston Council, he would take no part.
Kingston Council leader Kevin Davis said: “Phil has a lot of experience and we’d rather have someone with experience.
“Residents can judge for themselves whether they think he is being fair and reasonable.”