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Blossom Street Social files prohibition appeal

Published:  21 January, 2021

Manchester hybrid Blossom Street Social is fighting a recent Prohibition Notice which has since led to the closure of the shop/bar enterprise.

Owner Ben Stephenson said he was “very disappointed” with the decision to issue the notice, after inspectors visited the premises during the current nationwide lockdown.

The notice appears to be a result of the hybrid nature of the business, where – in non-lockdown times – alcohol can both be purchased and consumed on site.

In a letter field to Manchester City Council this week, Stephenson asked inspectors to “acknowledge that retail has always been at the heart of my business”, and as such requested to remain open to customers.

He continued: “Blossom Street Social was born directly from our experienced Hanging Ditch wine merchants, and although it is a bigger space, there is a clearly defined retail space within the unit. In addition, we have re-purposed the bar space to merchandise our substantial range of Spanish food products. Our wine range has an Iberian focus, so our food offering works very well with this. Shopping with us is fully Covid secure, in line with government advice, and compliant as an essential retailer during the current lockdown.”

Prohibition notices are issued if inspectors believe there is a risk of serious personal injury to staff and customers, and normally requires the business to stop operating straight away.

Blossom Street Social has since stopped trading.

In his letter, Stephenson made reference to his businesses’ influential role in establishing the hybrid model with the opening of popular Manchester merchant Hanging Ditch in 2008. At the time, a wave of small independent businesses were taking advantage of new licensing laws which meant businesses could operate an on and off license in the same premises.

While the recently closed Hanging Ditch in the town centre was “a casualty of the current pandemic”, Stephenson is now fighting for the future of Blossom Street Social, which only opened in December 2019.

“In terms of safety, we are in an enviable position to be able to socially distance all of our customers. We cleared away all of the seating many, many months ago, and have been operating purely as a retailer since a month after the first lockdown…Surely this must be taken into account when making your decision?”

Stephenson is now awaiting a response from the council.