Sunderland club gets permission for new building move

Ben Wall (left) and Paul Smiles outside Independent Nightclub in Holmeside, sunderland.
Ben Wall (left) and Paul Smiles outside Independent Nightclub in Holmeside, sunderland.
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MUSIC venue Independent has been given the green light to move to a new building in Holmeside.

Owners Ben Wall and Paul Smiles had to apply for a new licence to sell alcohol after the club’s current home was condemned last year.

Northumbria Police argued that, while they were happy for the venue to stage live music and entertainment until 5am, the sale of alcohol should stop at 3am.

But the pair told a meeting of Sunderland City Council’s licensing committee that their business model depended on them being able to serve booze until as late as possible, with 4.30am their prefered time.

After a hearing that lasted almost three hours, the committee agreed on a compromise deal that means revellers at Independent will be able to buy alcohol until 4am, with nobody allowed to enter the club after 3am.

Live music and other entertainment will be allowed to continue until 5am.

Ben declared himself happy with the decision and said: “We understand the police’s position, and this middle ground is much better than 3am.

“We take our responsibilities seriously, and we will continue to work with the police in the future.”

Colleague Paul added: “We should be able to continue to support local music in the way we want to. People will maybe have to just come out a little earlier.”

Northumbria Police Chief Inspector Richard Jackson also said he was happy with the decision and added that there would not be an appeal.

Earlier, he had argued granting the licence would add to the problems police face with drunken, antisocial behaviour between 5am and 7am.

But Independent’s lawyer, Matt Foster, said: “The club does something unique, and the people they attract do not cause any bother.

“The reputation they have with acts has taken a long time to build up, and it’s not like a normal club.

“They are particular about the clientele they allow in and have responsible door staff. Nobody is Sunderland is like them.”