December 7 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, August 31, 2013
A Dereham nightspot’s bid to extend its opening hours by 30 minutes to match nearby competitors has been thwarted.
The Lounge on Norwich Street had applied to Breckland Council’s licensing committee to increase its opening hours until 3am on Friday and Saturday nights.
The request had prompted objections with people living nearby and police officers fearing it would lead to increased noise and drunken behaviour.
Club bosses, however, said they believed the extended hours would help reduce the number of customers leaving at once and that it will help the business retain its customers, rather than seeing them move on to other late-drinking haunts, including Spliz on Quebec Street.
At yesterday’s committee meeting meeting, it was heard how there had been six incidents at the venue in recent months, including four assaults.
It was also heard how customers had been spotted leaving the premises through fire doors, smuggling open bottles of alcohol.
The venue’s owner, however, argued they had few dealings with the police, as demonstrated by the handful of incidents reported, and that they now have an updated CCTV system in place with seven or eight cameras.
After an hour-long discussion, committee members refused the application on the grounds that it would not help prevent public nuisance. During the meeting, Inspector Amie Abbs said: “It’s pertinent to mention that tackling anti-social behaviour in the area around the Lounge is one of the neighbourhood police priorities and that was voted in on July 31.
“I do think it [extended opening hours] will encourage later drinking. I’ve also got concerns about the road safety. I’ve been a PC, sergeant and inspector in Dereham and I’ve gone to incidents there and have witnessed people staggering across the road.”
Ghulam Murtaza, Susan Cameron and Michele Colman, who all live nearby, told councillors of sleepness nights on Friday and Saturday nights due to people leaving the venue and how Saturday and Friday nights had become “unbearable”.
Chris Mooney, who owns The Lounge, said: “One of the benefits of extending the licensing hours is that it will spread the times of people leaving.
“One of the concerns raised by residents is that there are a large number of people leaving in one go. That’s because some are going onto alternative venues with later hours.
“We don’t want to compete with Splitz, I want to keep my customers. They leave because we have got to close and they are forced to go to Splitz.”
Mr Mooney had also applied to have his licence varied to allow under-18s on the premises, accompanied by adults, for private functions until midnight. That part of the application was granted permission with conditions.
Two hundred jobs are set to be created after one of west Norfolk’s largest businesses was granted permission to expand its King’s Lynn facilities.