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Walsall has enough nightlife venues

17 Jan 10

Walsall town centre has reached its capacity for late night drinking, dining and entertainment according to the council’s licensing committee. It has refused to grant a license to a new bar and restaurant in Bradford Street because Walsall already has enough clubs, pubs and food outlets.

More than £200,000 has already been spent converting the former Mama Africa restaurant into a “superbar” aimed at attracting the gay community in Walsall and beyond. Altern8 was to be a two-storey nightclub employing 15 people. Les Hurst, who applied for the license, said: “We have spent a couple of hundred thousand on it and the majority of work is done. We didn’t think we would have a problem with the license.

“It was turned down under the Cumulative Impact Policy which says any new licensed premises in the town must prove it differentiates from existing premises – which this does as there is no other bar like this for the gay community in Walsall town centre.

“It was to be a superbar over two storeys with a carvery restaurant and snack bar as well as a DJ, games room, TV lounge and live cabaret and dance floor.”

Objecting to the licence application, Sgt John De-Hayes of Walsall Police reported: “This venue is likely to place additional strain on already stretched police resources. There is a proliferation of late night takeaways.”

Licensing officers also objected to the application stating that there were 16 licensed premises and 20 late night refreshment outlets in the town centre. Earlier this month, the licensing committee allowed a notorious Kebab shop to remain open until 5am in spite of objections from the police. The Kebab Ranch, also on Bradford Street, has seen drunken brawls and robberies but has been allowed to continue trading.

Last year, Walsall Trading and Licensing Services claimed that the blocking of a license to Altern8 was an “achievement” as was the Best Bar None award given to Modus Vivendi, a new bar opened in Bridge Street. The report makes no mention of the closure of the Studio 54 nightclub or the Hogshead Bar in Leicester Street which remains vacant. Tommy’s Bar, now known as Pommy’s Bar, in Freer Street was allowed to keep its licence in spite of repeated incidents of violence and selling alcohol to a 13 year old girl.

As part of the application, Altern8 stated that an “instant”, no waiting taxi service would be subsidised by the club and a free shuttle bus service would operate to and from the venue to outlying areas including Birmingham. However, councillor Keith Sears, chairman of the licensing committee, said: “It raised a number of concerns such as the impact a new venue would have on crime and disorder by drawing even more people into the town from within the borough and outside, therefore the committee considered it would have a negative impact in respect of the existing cumulative impact policy.”

Walsall Council are currently objecting to the building of discount food stores in Bescot because it fears that business will be taken away from the town centre.

Mr Hurst says he will appeal against the decision.

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