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Social club overcomes licence hurdle

PUBLISHED: 09:59 04 April 2008 | UPDATED: 21:02 07 July 2010

A bid to reopen a former Labour Club in Norfolk was given the go-ahead yesterday, despite concerns over late-night noise and antisocial behaviour.

The social club in Bury Road, Thetford, was the scene of a sit-in protest two years ago after the South West Norfolk Constituency Labour Party attempted to evict drinkers and tenants following a long-running legal dispute.

A bid to reopen a former Labour Club in Norfolk was given the go-ahead yesterday, despite concerns over late-night noise and antisocial behaviour.

The social club in Bury Road, Thetford, was the scene of a sit-in protest two years ago after the South West Norfolk Constituency Labour Party attempted to evict drinkers and tenants following a long-running legal dispute.

But the former Thetford Labour Club was given a new premises licence to open as the Thetford Sports and Social Club yesterday after Breckland councillors struck a compromise agreement.

Jamie and Stephanie McGill, who run the Green Dragon pub in the town, had applied to provide alcohol and entertainment at the venue from 9am to 2am and stay open until 2.30am seven days a week. But a Breckland Council licensing committee reduced the proposed new opening hours for the vacant social club yesterday after hearing the objections of local residents.

A petition signed by 50 people was against the late-night licensing application and concerns were raised by environmental health officials and Norfolk police over excessive noise and security issues.

Peter Vale, of Bury Road, told councillors that residents already suffered from the noise and behaviour of drunken “louts” coming from the town during weekends and the opening of the social club until the early hours would make the situation “intolerable”.

But Brian Hardie, who represented Mr and Mrs McGill, said the venue was not going to be a nightclub, but a members-only establishment and available for private functions. He added that his clients, who had invested a “considerable amount” in refurbishing the club, had “no intention” of opening until 2am every night and had agreed to all of the conditions set by the police and environmental health officials.

“It seems we are damned if we shut it and damned if we try and open it,” he said.

Councillors granted the new premises licence for the Thetford Sports and Social Club to provide music, dance, films, plays, late-night refreshment and alcohol until midnight and stay open until 12.30am every day. They also gave the licensees permission to open until 2am on no more than 26 days a year.

Ian Sherwood, chairman of the licensing committee, said he hoped the decision “strikes a sensible balance” between the aspirations of the applicants and the rights of local residents to enjoy a quiet life.

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