New Kingston councillor who acted for Essence nightclub says licensing chair role 'not a conflict of interest'

Councillor Phil Doyle

Councillor Phil Doyle

First published in News
Last updated
Surrey Comet: Photograph of the Author by , Deputy editor

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.

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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.”

Comments (6)

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2:11pm Mon 23 Jun 14

TolworthConcern says...

This is OUTRAGEOUS !!! Why didn't he declare his interests ! He clearly cannot pursue his role within RBK in an objective manner , it leaves RBK open to calls of bias and undue influence . He must resign from his role in Licensing asap .
Further research shows that councillor Doyle is also Chairman of The Kingston and Surbiton Conservatives ... so his influence reaches a wider net ...
What next ??? Have a Tory leader of the council that owns 2 planning PR / lobbying firms . You couldn't make this up ... really ... the politics of the vested interest . Its a disgrace !!!
This is OUTRAGEOUS !!! Why didn't he declare his interests ! He clearly cannot pursue his role within RBK in an objective manner , it leaves RBK open to calls of bias and undue influence . He must resign from his role in Licensing asap . Further research shows that councillor Doyle is also Chairman of The Kingston and Surbiton Conservatives ... so his influence reaches a wider net ... What next ??? Have a Tory leader of the council that owns 2 planning PR / lobbying firms . You couldn't make this up ... really ... the politics of the vested interest . Its a disgrace !!! TolworthConcern
  • Score: 11

2:29pm Mon 23 Jun 14

Barry O'Mahony says...

Agreed!
So, the Property Developer lobbyist leader of the Tories, Kevin Davis, is backing his Night Club Licensing lobbyist friend, Cllr Philip Doyle to be impartial as chair of licensing for Kingston Borough. And, like the new leader he will apparently take no part in future cases in Kingston. That's big of them both - They wouldn't be allowed!! What about existing cases where an obvious interest still exists in cases yet to be resolved by the Council?

Was Cllr Doyle still on the payroll of Essence when he was a councillor candidate at the time of the Essence hearing?
He spent a lot of time at the hearing in Guildhall back in January this year, working the room as a candidate and promoting his so-called expertise in these matters. BUT, Mr Doyle's advice to residents in the audience that day, and I was also there, was that Kingston Council should NOT go for full closure but rather go for a cutback in operating hours. This was more common practice in Westminster. That could have influenced how resident witnesses spoke at the hearing.
Thank goodness the Liberal Democrat Chair of that hearing, and now Grove Ward Cllr Stephen Brister insisted on full closure. If newbie Cllr Doyle was in charge that well acknowledged source of trouble, Essence might still be operating.
Agreed! So, the Property Developer lobbyist leader of the Tories, Kevin Davis, is backing his Night Club Licensing lobbyist friend, Cllr Philip Doyle to be impartial as chair of licensing for Kingston Borough. And, like the new leader he will apparently take no part in future cases in Kingston. That's big of them both - They wouldn't be allowed!! What about existing cases where an obvious interest still exists in cases yet to be resolved by the Council? Was Cllr Doyle still on the payroll of Essence when he was a councillor candidate at the time of the Essence hearing? He spent a lot of time at the hearing in Guildhall back in January this year, working the room as a candidate and promoting his so-called expertise in these matters. BUT, Mr Doyle's advice to residents in the audience that day, and I was also there, was that Kingston Council should NOT go for full closure but rather go for a cutback in operating hours. This was more common practice in Westminster. That could have influenced how resident witnesses spoke at the hearing. Thank goodness the Liberal Democrat Chair of that hearing, and now Grove Ward Cllr Stephen Brister insisted on full closure. If newbie Cllr Doyle was in charge that well acknowledged source of trouble, Essence might still be operating. Barry O'Mahony
  • Score: 12

7:17pm Mon 23 Jun 14

0753waterloo says...

How can we trust the judgement of someone can't see the connection between running a company that provides ''Fixed price licence applications' and chairing the Licensing Committee?

Not declaring an interest is a disgrace.
How can we trust the judgement of someone can't see the connection between running a company that provides ''Fixed price licence applications' and chairing the Licensing Committee? Not declaring an interest is a disgrace. 0753waterloo
  • Score: 11

8:20pm Mon 23 Jun 14

Beverly RA says...

If anyone thinks that what he's doing is not legal then challenge him . But take care what you are alleging by personally attacking him. For you cannot hide behind a false name in a newspaper anymore
So the licensing Committee chairman is an expert ! About time we had someone who understands the law and can use it for the benefit of residents and not hide behind closed doors like the Lib dems did on Oceania and then change their minds and give in.
If anyone thinks that what he's doing is not legal then challenge him . But take care what you are alleging by personally attacking him. For you cannot hide behind a false name in a newspaper anymore So the licensing Committee chairman is an expert ! About time we had someone who understands the law and can use it for the benefit of residents and not hide behind closed doors like the Lib dems did on Oceania and then change their minds and give in. Beverly RA
  • Score: -13

8:38pm Mon 23 Jun 14

0753waterloo says...

Beverly RA wrote:
If anyone thinks that what he's doing is not legal then challenge him . But take care what you are alleging by personally attacking him. For you cannot hide behind a false name in a newspaper anymore
So the licensing Committee chairman is an expert ! About time we had someone who understands the law and can use it for the benefit of residents and not hide behind closed doors like the Lib dems did on Oceania and then change their minds and give in.
I merely said it's a disgrace. What are you alleging behind a false name? Please be clear.
[quote][p][bold]Beverly RA[/bold] wrote: If anyone thinks that what he's doing is not legal then challenge him . But take care what you are alleging by personally attacking him. For you cannot hide behind a false name in a newspaper anymore So the licensing Committee chairman is an expert ! About time we had someone who understands the law and can use it for the benefit of residents and not hide behind closed doors like the Lib dems did on Oceania and then change their minds and give in.[/p][/quote]I merely said it's a disgrace. What are you alleging behind a false name? Please be clear. 0753waterloo
  • Score: 3

1:06pm Tue 24 Jun 14

grace86 says...

"We're all in it together" my arse.

The Tories are obviously in it for themselves. They harp on about the public sector, but make a living as so called "consultants" on the back of it, as they push their noses deeper into the trough.

People of Kingston, this shower of parasites, feasting on the spoils from property developers & dodgy night club owners, now claim to represent you. Well sorry, I've got morals and you don't represent me.
"We're all in it together" my arse. The Tories are obviously in it for themselves. They harp on about the public sector, but make a living as so called "consultants" on the back of it, as they push their noses deeper into the trough. People of Kingston, this shower of parasites, feasting on the spoils from property developers & dodgy night club owners, now claim to represent you. Well sorry, I've got morals and you don't represent me. grace86
  • Score: 18

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