THE APPLICATION for an alcohol licence for a new bar in the Covered Market has been rejected.

Oxford City Council Licensing and Gambling committee were supposed to meet on Tuesday evening to decide whether The Tap Social's newest venture, 'The Market Tap', would be allowed to serve alcohol.

The application asked to serve alcohol from 2pm until 10pm from Sunday to Thursday and serve alcohol from 2pm until midnight on Friday and Saturdays at the venue, previously occupied by Hedges Butchers.

The meeting, however, was cancelled yesterday morning as the council said 'licensing rejected the application on a technicality, which is now pending a re-submission'.

Reasoning for the rejection was based on a 'technical defect' in the way the application was advertised, which resulted in some businesses in the Covered Market not having time to respond to comment on the application.

The decision to cancel the meeting followed a string of complaints from other independent businesses in the Covered Market, based on the requested late opening times and lack of night-time security in the Covered Market.

Verity Piggott, who owns the 75-year-old Bonner's Fruit and Vegetable store, said that 'much tighter security' needs to be put in place and 'more support' needed to be given other businesses in the market before this application was approved.

Speaking after the licence was rejected, the owner added: “At the Covered Market, we are one big family, we work together.

“There is not them and us, but it would not be effective security wise or safety wise for this market, as it stands currently to be open until twelve or one in the morning.

“We are not saying do not apply for a licence – put the application back in – just make sure it is done legally and give the people of the Covered Market, our family, enough time to object if they feel that it’s appropriate.”

Paul Birtles, who owns The Garden of Oxford in the market, echoed similar concerns: "I am one of numerous traders in The Covered Market that have concerns over the Tap Social proposal for The Covered Market, and welcome the decision of The Licensing authority to reject their recent application on the grounds that the application did not adhere to regulations.

“From the outset, traders have raised concerns about the potential risks to their individual units after trading hours, when the market will be occupied by customers of the bar late into the night.

“Traders have also expressed valid concerns about The Market beyond their individual units, and the consequences of possible anti-social behaviour."

Sam Melish, who owns Next to Nothing in the Market, added: “I think the postponement is good because it gives the rest of the traders, the council and Tap Social, a chance to really understand what our security concerns are, because I think they don’t at the moment.

“My shop has two glass windows, and with two security, with the best will in the world, they would not be able to monitor every single avenue.

“It will be a good chance for them to understand our concerns about opening at night.” Plans for the award-winning, Botley-based brewers to open a new venue in the Covered Market were first revealed in February 2020 - one month later, the whole nation entered a lockdown which put the plans on hold for two years.

Paul Humpherson, who is the founder and director of the Tap Social, said: "Apparently there were some minor technical defects in the way in which our application was advertised, including that the text of the notices which we downloaded direct from the Council’s own website contained errors, as a result of which the hearing has been postponed to a later date.

"None of this affects the underlying substance of the application which will be determined at a future hearing.

"We look forward to joining our new neighbours in the market in due course once all the bureaucratic fun is behind us."