Let's Party in Hitchin cannot stay open beyond midnight after its owner was pulled up for being involved with an unlicensed birthday karaoke at his barber shop.

Councillors in North Herts refused to let the events venue extend its alcohol licensing hours until 1.30am following a hearing on Friday, December 8.

Hertfordshire Constabulary officers told district council members that “in some considered opinion” the licensee had shown “naivety” in his application to vary the existing licence.

Applicant Antonio Miceli spoke at the hearing. He said: “I am desperate to stay open until later so I can serve the Hitchin community in the daytime and in the evenings.

“My current closing time will not meet the financial target required to stay open.

“I need those extra hours, and more importantly, I think Hitchin and Bucklersbury do too.

“I genuinely believe Bucklersbury and Hitchin need more late-night venues so the community can have some fun and live life – not going home at midnight – options not only to drink but more importantly to enjoy their night out, and that is what my venue is providing.

“I am not just another late-night venue that can potentially cause more hassle. My venue is all about having fun. My customers mainly visit to sing, not only drink.”

Mr Miceli said his previous venture Uva Wines – a wine bar – at 26 Bucklersbury in Hitchin closed its doors permanently during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“After Covid, I reopened as a hot rock wine bar,” he added.

“Due to economic influences, my electric [bill] went through the roof and I had to rethink once again.

“I’ve spent a lot of money and I went for a pre-booked party venue, hence Let’s Party was formed just a few months ago.

“In the summer, I introduced karaoke. It was simply a home kit, but it was very, very popular and customers did like it.”

Mr Miceli added: “People who come leave as friends.”

He promised to consider introducing a doorman if the licence were granted, and said moving into the late-night hospitality sector had presented a “quick learning curve”.

Cllr David Barnard, who sat on the licensing sub-committee, asked Mr Miceli about reports that drinks had been taken off the premises into a nearby barber shop, which Mr Miceli also owns.

The venue has both an “on” and “off” licence, so customers can buy alcohol to drink on-site or take away.

The applicant told Cllr Barnard: “I have put a stop to that, end of.”

Let’s Party has a licence to sell alcohol between 10am and 11.30pm daily and can open until midnight.

The venue can also host live music including karaoke between 8am and 11pm by its alcohol permit.

Mr Miceli asked for permission to extend the alcohol and music licensing hours until 1.30am on Fridays and Saturdays – and to serve late-night food and drink between 10pm and 11.30pm Sunday until Thursday and until 1.30pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

In their submissions to North Herts Council, police officers said they discovered a karaoke event at a barber shop in Bucklersbury on September 17, 2023.

“The sergeant did think it was odd that there was a karaoke in a barber shop,” the submission read.

It lists a series of discussion points which officers raised with Mr Miceli – who also runs the barbers – during an October meeting.

Officers claimed that when they raised a potential issue about Mr Miceli opening the venue outside the permitted hours, he asked them: “Shall we forget about the past?”

Speaking at the sub-committee meeting, Sergeant Chris Adshead told councillors: “We are bringing this under two of the [four] licensing objectives – namely the prevention of crime and disorder and the prevention of public nuisance.”

He added the October meeting took place to “negate” the need for a hearing, but Mr Miceli allegedly showed a “lack of general awareness around licensing”.

“There seems to be some – I don’t want to use the word – naivety around his obligations, because the critical word is the ‘prevention’ of crime and disorder," the sergeant said.

“It’s not all about proof of what has gone on in the past.”

Neighbours Mr and Mrs Chilvers also spoke at the meeting.

Mr Chilvers said they have “never had a problem” with other night-time venues.

“He is not sticking to his licence,” he said.

“Certainly during the summer, it was 12 or 12.30 – people outside, and it was clearly unacceptable."

Sub-committee members discussed their position in private before making their ruling on the same day.

Chair Cllr Tom Tyson confirmed that the application was rejected and that the conditions of the existing licence “remain in place” and that breaching these could be “a criminal offence”.