BEDROCKS nightclub has been granted permission to extend its opening hours despite concerns raised by Cashmere, its main rival.
Cashmere boss Zafer Saygilier, whose club has a 4am licence, had warned of a huge increase in disorder if clubbers from both venues spill into Golden Square at the same time. However, councillors approved the application by Bedrocks owner Robert Armstrong to extend his alcohol sales licence from 2am to 3am and opening times from 3am to 3.30am.
Hugo Hughes, representing Mr Armstrong, said: “It’s unfair that the nightclub premises operated by Mr Saygilier has licensing hours that take it until 4am whereas my client is forced to stop selling alcohol at 2am and his customers have to go elsewhere.
“Mr Saygilier operates the only other nightclub premises in Berwick. His objections are not relevant because they are based on the competition that an extension of hours for Bedrocks might represent.”
He told members of Northumberland County Council’s licensing sub-committee that extended hours would reduce the problem of customers spilling on to the street at the same time. Customers would be given until 3.20am for ‘drinking up time’ and the doors would shut at 3.30am.
“Mr Armstrong feels numbers are likely to dwindle after 2am and, with extended hours, customers will leave gradually rather than all in one go,” said Mr Hughes.
He also pointed out that Mr Armstrong has successfully operated until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays of bank holiday weekends for some time.
There had been no objections from the relevant authorities or from local residents and Northumbria Police had been satisfied by the introduction of a formal condition that there will be a minimum of four door supervisors and five on Saturday nights.
However, Mr Saygilier slammed Mr Armstrong’s use of cheap drinks promotions and accused him of a complete disregard for safety and security.
He said: “I have operated Cashmere for seven years and throughout that time there have been inconsistencies with his stance on door supervisors. They have always been very blase towards safety in letting people walk out with bottles. At some point, if these bottles have been left on the street they can become a weapon.
“We have the two largest premises in the area and yet I have never seen Mr Armstrong attend a Pub Watch meeting. There are troublemakers and certain people are banned but he has a complete disregard for what happens in other premises.
“I also have to say I am quite surprised the police have made no objection given that it took me two years to obtain my extended licence.”
He also pointed out that although he has a 4am licence, in practice he shuts his premises around 3.30am at weekends.
Mr Hughes firmly denied there was an issue with safety and security at Bedrocks and said Mr Armstrong was a responsible licensee.
He went on to explain that its drinks pricing policy - £2 per drink for a pint or bottle of beer - had been the same for three years and he did not have two-for-one or happy hour promotions.
“He believes his pricing policy is entirely fair so people can have a happy and affordable night out,” said Mr Hughes.
“There has also been a shift in the way people are buying alcohol,” he added. “They are buying it cheaply from the supermarkets and having it at home before they come into town where they drink less so that is where the root of the problem lies.”