Canterbury hotel's management under scrutiny at liquor licence hearing

The District Licensing Committee hearing on The Famous Grouse's liquor licence. Photo: Daniel Alvey
The District Licensing Committee hearing on The Famous Grouse's liquor licence. Photo: Daniel Alvey
Police have cited incidents involving students and raised concerns over management at The Famous Grouse in Lincoln during a hearing to determine if the hotel's liquor licence should be renewed.

Lynn Townsend. Photo: File image
Lynn Townsend. Photo: File image
Police, the Selwyn District Council licensing inspector and Canterbury medical officer of health are opposing the renewal of the Gerald St hotel's liquor licence. 

Famous Grouse 2009 Ltd director Lynn Townsend faced questions from all three agencies today. The Selwyn District Licensing Committee focused on his knowledge of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 and some of the hotel's advertising.  

When questioned by Sergeant David Robertson, Lynn could not recall the name of the act the hotel was licenced under. Townsend admitted to committee chair Merelyn Redstone his knowledge of the act could be better.  

“Yes, I have to accept the fact I probably haven’t made myself aware of the new act,” Townsend said.   

He also acknowledged some of the advertising of events at the hotel, including a bull riding event and silent disco, were aimed at students.  

Townsend said he would spend a full night at the hotel about once a month and never on student nights.  

The committee was shown a number of videos, including some from a “Mr Grouse” event in August last year.  

In one of the videos, a man can be seen dancing naked on the runway. He knocked over glasses and injured two female patrons, resulting in a police callout. The officers who attended are expected to give evidence during the hearing.  

Lynn Townsend said some of the advertising for events, such as this silent disco, was aimed at...
Lynn Townsend said some of the advertising for events, such as this silent disco, was aimed at students. Image: Supplied
Senior Constable Genevieve Craddock told the committee the hotel was lucky to only receive a warning following the event. 

But the hotel's barrister, Amy Keir, argued Craddock could not assume the man was intoxicated as she was not present on the night.  

Craddock said she had been told by the attending officers the man was arrested and was intoxicated.  

Townsend said the hotel was not proud of the Mr Grouse event and had made a decision not to host a Mr Grouse or Miss Grouse night again.  

“We accept the Mr Grouse competition was a disaster ... something we are not proud of and that won’t happen again.”

On Tuesday afternoon, the general manager of the hotel Kurt Young was questioned by the committee and three opposing agencies on his responsibilities as manager. 

Roberston asked Young whether he knew the man who got on the stage was committing an offence, by being naked and acting offensively.  

Young said in hindsight he would have “possibly” done something different.  

The word “possibly” was a concern for Redstone, who said some of the answers being given to the committee were “halfhearted”. 

Kurt Young.
Kurt Young.
Young told the committee when he started in 2021, he was trespassing two to three people a week for various behaviour issues including fake IDs. The number has since dropped.  

Young said in recent months the hotel has taken measures to reduce the amount of noise, including stopping people from drinking in the beer garden at the back of the hotel at 9pm.  

Young conceded in his evidence brief submitted before the hearing about 10 nights a year can become “chaotic”.  

Robertson responded: "The word chaotic may have come as a concern to the committee.” And asked if Young had ever lost control of a situation. 

Young responded: “Chaotic wasn’t the best choice of word.”   

This morning the committee heard how Craddock and district council chief licensing inspector Malcolm Johnston monitored the outside of the hotel one night without alerting staff.  

They conducted the survey on a Wednesday night, which is a popular night for students at the pub.

Video from the night showed students running around the outside of the pub near closing time, including people climbing on the front of a ute. 

The Famous Grouse Hotel at Lincoln. Photo: Supplied
The Famous Grouse Hotel at Lincoln. Photo: Supplied
Craddock told the committee members of security and hotel general manager Kurt Young were outside the bar watching what was occurring. Craddock said they did not take any action to stop the behaviour. 

Craddock said they observed students shouting, urinating, and running over the road.

At one point, the Grouse courtesy van was observed honking at patrons who were on the road. 

Young can also be heard in one video telling people who had jumped on the back of a ute to "get off".  

Craddock warned hotel management about hosting student events on Wednesday nights after problems with other pubs in Springston and Yaldhurst.

Craddock said she was concerned about the inexperience of staff and the amount of turnover.

But Craddock said she has not been made aware of any issues of intoxication at the hotel since May this year.  

The Lincoln Club operates The Famous Grouse through its company Famous Grouse 2009 Ltd. The club has about 500 members and promotes itself as 'the club in a pub'. 

The hearing is set to continue tomorrow. A number of supporters from the Lincoln Club were at the hearing in support of The Famous Grouse. Police officers, hotel management, and the licensing inspector are all expected to give evidence.