Kartel nightclub closes after licensing restrictions - but owners promise ‘exciting’ future for venue

Kartel owner, Brad Baxter, outside the club in London Street, where a conservatory roof glass pane broke and fell on customers. Picture: Denise Bradley Kartel owner, Brad Baxter, outside the club in London Street, where a conservatory roof glass pane broke and fell on customers. Picture: Denise Bradley

Friday, May 2, 2014
5:02 PM

A Norwich nightclub where five clubbers were injured when a glass roof pane shattered has closed, after reduced opening hours made it unviable as a business.

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Police claims

At the licensing sub-committee meeting on February 7, police raised concerns after several incidents “involving violence and intoxication” at Kartel in December and January - though the club disputes them - including:

December 1, 4am – Man climbed over smoking terrace fence, dislodging glass pane which fell and injured five clubbers.

December 21, 3.25am – Man fell asleep inside Kartel and became abusive and kicked a doorman as he was ejected.

December 21, 4am – Woman not allowed in to retrieve her coat and made threats to door staff before assaulting a police officer.

January 5, 3.40am – Drunk man ejected for throwing drinks, and attempted to fight with the doorman.

January 29, 3.15am – Doormen attacked by several people after ejecting three men from club. Four people arrested and now on bail.

January 30, 3.50am – Drunk woman assaulted on premises and ran off down Prince of Wales Road.

A Norwich nightclub where five clubbers were injured when a glass roof pane shattered has closed, after reduced opening hours made it unviable as a business.

Kartel nightclub saw temporary conditions imposed on its licence in February, after police raised concerns at a spate of incidents of disorder at the London Street venue.

Management had warned that the earlier closing times would force the nightclub out of business and, despite new opening hours being agreed at a licensing sub-committee meeting in March, it closed its doors for the last time at the weekend.

The owners say they took the decision “with great regret” but hope the venue can shortly reopen “as something completely different and new to the city”.

Co-owner James Belton said: “The reduction in licensed hours has had a huge impact on the profitability of the business as a late-night venue, and combined with the requirement for an increased number of door supervisors, the business model was no longer viable.”

He said the venue had disputed police claims about disorder, and but that Kartel had suffered two isolated incidents around two months apart.

He added: “We have always done everything in our power to ensure the safety and comfort of our customers and since the incidents have made changes to reduce, as far as possible, the likelihood of anything like this happening again.”

Police called for the review of the licence after several disturbances in December and January.

They included an incident on December 1, when a customer climbed on to the rood and dislodged a pane of glass which fell and injured five people, and a large-scale brawl on January 29 in which doormen had to retreat inside the building as drunken customers tried to break in, said police.

Norwich City Council’s licensing sub-committee ordered the club to make its last admission at 2.45am instead of 3.15am, and close an hour earlier at 3am, subject to a full review 28 days later.

At that full review, Norfolk police and the club owners put forward joint proposals to extend the closing time to 3.30am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings. They also agreed conditions that the club should have appropriate working CCTV, join the radio alert scheme, and set minimum numbers of door staff to be on duty.

What do you think about Kartel’s closure? Write, including your full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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