December 7 2013 Latest news:
By Chris Hill
Friday, October 4, 2013
A Dereham nightclub owner said she is determined to restore her venue’s reputation and look to the future with a “clean slate” after finally resolving licensing troubles which have taken a toll on her business and her health.
The Splitz nightclub on Quebec Street was threatened with a one-month closure earlier this year after police highlighted reports of violence, drunkenness and anti-social behaviour.
Breckland Council’s licensing committee decided in May that the club’s licence should be suspended to allow measures to be introduced which included new CCTV cameras, more door staff and better training.
But club manager Michelle Menzies appealed against the decision and finally reached an agreement with licensing officers on September 18.
This week, the 28-year-old spoke to the Times about the impact of those four months of uncertainty.
She said as well as the £13,000 financial cost incurred during the legal process, the strain had made her ill with anxiety and depression, with a knock-on effect on her family as well as her work colleagues.
But after accepting all of the 17 conditions enforced by Breckland Council, she says her business has improved, and so has her club’s relationship with the authorities.
She says she has learned from the experience and emerged with a positive outlook – and she hopes other publicans in the town can avoid making the same mistakes.
“When I started to worry about the initial meeting in May it hit me that it was quite a serious thing to happen, and obviously I had a lot of publicity about it,” she said.
“I became quite ill over it. I am still on tablets for depression and anxiety, which started in June before I appealed the court hearing.
“It just got on top of me but at the end of the day I realised that what I went through was a good thing. It gave us the kick we needed to improve the business and improve the door-men and the staff’s understanding of how the business and the door should be run.
“I hope the other licenced premises in the town take note. They should learn from what I’ve been through.
“I am not a bad person. I am a 28-year-old woman trying to make a living but it has been difficult – it has taken its toll and I am suffering an illness because of it. I have never been through anything like this and I have never suffered from anxiety and depression until this year. It has had an effect on my health and my family especially.
“They are pleased that it is done and dusted and we can move forward as a family and we can move forward as a business, and hopefully enjoy a good Christmas and New Year.
“It has made the relationship between myself, the police and the licensing all the stronger. I feel we can start with a clean slate and look forward.”
As a result of the licensing conditions, Miss Menzies said six members of staff had started NVQ courses in licensed hospitality, while three were starting doorman courses from October 1.
Other conditions being implemented are an upgrade to a digital CCTV system, which was introduced in May, doormen to wear high-visibility jackets and the introduction of a radio system between bar, management and door staff.
Miss Menzies has been at the club since May 2010, and took over its management last September. She said she wanted to thank her family and colleagues for their support, particularly assistant manager Maria Steward who had helped steer the club through its licensing review.
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