Police fears over new Sunderland club

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A NEW nightspot could open in Sunderland city centre.

Leisure company J Noble and Sons wants to revamp the former Liquid and Diva bars, as The Basement and Utopia club.

But Northumbria Police have objected to the Chester-le-Street firm’s bid for a licence, to play music and serve alcohol from 11pm until 4am.

The force claims that extending opening hours in the city centre could increase booze-fuelled violence.

Sunderland City Council’s licensing sub-committee will consider the application for changes at the Galen building, in Green Terrace, which would have 
a capacity for 1,560 customers over two levels, on Monday.

Evidence to consider will include a letter of objection from Chief Inspector Sean McKenna, of Sunderland Area Command.

He said: “Traditionally, each venue has been limited to fixed licensing hours depending on whether it was a club or bar/pub.

“This allowed the local authority, police and other public bodies to manage the impact licensed premises had on partnership resources and the community at large.

“Since the implementation of the new licensing act, licensed premises have submitted various amendments to licensing hours.

“The majority are intent on increasing their business hours to ensure their business remains viable, while others try to address specific customer issues. This has made the management of crime and disorder issues surrounding the night-time economy difficult and complicated.

“Whilst policing recourses have been amended to cater for this change, the increase in premises opening beyond 3am has placed significant demands on those resources, reducing the support and attention that can be given to neighbourhood issues and thus the resident community of Sunderland.

“Policing resources are aimed toward periods of peak demand. These are the times that the public want and need police presence in the community.

“An increase in demand after 3am would require police resources to be moved to support this demand, and provide some contingency for any large-scale disorder of major incident.”

He added: “It is suggested that the current equilibrium needs to remain in place.

“Sunderland is one of the safest cities in the country and this is because of the way the local authority, police and other partners work together to reduce the risk of harm to persons.”

Built in 1901, the former university Galen building was first opened as a nightclub in 2003, and was operated by Luminar Leisure until it closed its doors last November.

Liquid reopened in April but closed again recently.

If the licence application is successful, The Basement is planning to hold a launch party on December 6.

Twitter: @SunEchoSteven