A POPULAR music venue in Andover has had its designated premises supervisor (DPS) removed after concerns were raised about alcohol-related anti-social behaviour and crime. 

Tony Noakes has been removed as the DPS of The Rockhouse, in London Street, by Test Valley Borough Council following a licence review application by Hampshire Constabulary.

A DPS is the person who has day-to-day responsibility for the running of the business.

The council's licensing sub-committee made the decision on Monday, November 13 based on police recommendations.

The decision was taken after hearing from Mr Noakes, his solicitor, and Brian Swallow, representing the Hampshire Constabulary.

The press and the public were excluded from the hearing as the evidence included reference to a crime.

READ MORE: Petition seeks community support for The Rockhouse

The Rockhouse's premises licence is held by The Abel Foundation, a charity established by Mr Noakes and his wife, Claire, to support their son and others who suffer from Mitochondrial Disease.

Representing Hampshire Constabulary, Mr Swallow had highlighted in a written application the venue's disproportionate level of alcohol-related incidents and crime compared to other establishments in the town.

He mentioned instances of serious nature, such as an alleged rape on April 10, 2023, involving a now ex-member of staff and a club patron.

Mr Swallow wrote: "On email, Noakes belittled the incident and attempted to advise me incorrectly of the judicial process and made completely inappropriate comments about police officers. This is not an acceptable attitude for a DPS.

“When attempting to address the number and severity of incidents at the venue, Noakes is obstructive and belligerent and has even made spurious and unfounded allegations of police officers mishandling controlled substances seized by the venue.

“Serious incidents continue to occur at The Rockhouse with the latest being the September 19 whereby a male was seriously assaulted in the toilets.”

Mr Swallow said that the majority of the incidents at The Rockhouse occur past 1am mainly on weekends and the majority of those incidents involve 'unacceptable levels of intoxication by either the perpetrators or victims'.

He continued: "I would normally propose additional conditions on the licence in respect of ID scanning additional SIA security staff, updated policies, especially in relation to welfare and vulnerability and strongly consider a reduction in licensable hours.

“However, I am mindful that this venue supports a very worthwhile charity and that it should not be punished because of the attitude and failings of one individual. As such, as a measured stepped approach, I am of the option that the removal of the DPS will have a positive impact on the venue.”

In contrast, the borough council's Environmental Protection Team said: "Our experience of this DPS has not been in the same vein and in the few dealings we have had with the premises we have found Mr Noakes to be approachable and helpful.

"Our last direct involvement with Mr Noakes was March 2019 when we were investigating complaints of late-night glass recycling/bottle disposal. Mr Noakes made time to meet with us when his premises is usually closed and to review his CCTV to assist us."

The licensing committee, consisting of Test Valley mayor Cllr Philip Lashbrook, Cllr Linda Lashbrook and Cllr Lisa Matthews, decided to remove Mr Noakes as the DPS after an hour of deliberation.

Cllr Lashbrook described it as the most challenging case in his 20-year tenure.

SEE ALSO: Wetherspoon's The John Russell Fox Loo of the Year win

He said the committee decided to remove Mr Noakes due to concerns over drug-related issues, incidents outside the venue attributed to it, and Mr Noakes' unsatisfactory explanations regarding intoxication and CCTV operations.

After the meeting, Mr Noakes told the Advertiser that he would file an appeal in court against the decision.

He said: “It is a disappointing decision. We will be appealing it and will go to court. We feel that the council cannot deal with it.”

He added that his role as the DPS will continue while the appeal process is ongoing.