Sunderland bar in 'last chance saloon' after having licence suspended

A Sunderland bar has been warned it is in the “last chance saloon” after having its licence suspended for three months over police concerns.

Monday, 6th December 2021, 3:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 9:50 am

Bosses at the Jungle Bar, in Vine Street, Sunderland city centre, hope to welcome a “new chapter” once that period is over after coming to an agreement over moving forward with Northumbria Police after a licence review for the premises was called over crime and child safeguarding concerns.

The venue will have its licence suspended for three months and remain closed - with the caveat no person with any previous involvement with the bar will continue as a member of management when it reopens.

Talks between the parties took place ahead of the latest Sunderland City Council licensing sub-committee meeting, which saw both sides agree to the proposals before they were presented to councillors.

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Councillor Usman Ali spoke at the meeting and said the bar is in the 'last chance saloon'.

A legal representative on behalf of premises licence holder John Kerr told the committee steps would be taken over the next three months to work with police and bring in new staff to mark a “new chapter” in the bar’s history.

She said: “This is a fresh start where there will be an opportunity to bring in high performing members of staff who will then be able to reach their full potential with additional training.

“What we are suggesting is a complete overhaul, press the reset button, a fresh chapter in the history of this venue, and that’s understood in terms of staff and clientele.”

She added Mr Kerr had not given the venue “the attention it rightly deserves” previously due to “personal health issues” although he is ready to take the “golden opportunity” provided.

Sunderland's Jungle Bar.

Councillors heard as part of the conditions staff will receive training on their responsibilities every six months, including on areas such as child safeguarding concerns.

Helen Thompson, solicitor on behalf of the police, said issues with the property go back to at least 2017.

She said: “The caveat to the agreement on behalf of police is that no person to have currently had an involvement with the Jungle Bar is to be put forward as continuing members of management.

“This ultimately is the last chance on behalf of the police … to turn this place around.”

She added the police will be “very firm” in requesting a further licence review if problems return.

Councillors on the committee reiterated concerns over past issues and the importance of improvements being made.

Cllr David Snowdon said: “You’re going to have to change the clientele you attract, and anybody who is at risk of bringing drugs or going to cause trouble, they just don’t get in, it’s as simple as that.”

Cllr Usman Ali stressed the premises has had “a lot of problems” which need to be addressed, adding the proposals offer a “lifeline” and a “last chance saloon”.

After a short adjournment for councillors to consider the proposals it was revealed, although there were “significant concerns” around the bar, that the proposals were a “positive way forward” and were agreed.

The sub-committee earlier this year rejected an application to transfer the premises licence for the site.

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