Gateshead owners of Durham city nightclub fined £3,000 over licensing breaches

Bosses at a Durham City nightclub have been ordered to pay £3,000 between them over breaches of their licence.

Directors of Jimmy Allens, Cheryl and David Bullock, from Gateshead, were prosecuted by Durham County Council for four charges each in relation to breaches of its licence.

These were: employing an unlicensed door supervisor; failing to keep a register of licensed door supervisors; and two counts of failing to ensure there was a clear boundary in the venue’s courtyard area and failing to ensure drinks were only served to people at tables.

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The pair were ordered to pay £1,016 each in fines and victim surcharges, as well as costs of £538.10 for Mrs Bullock, 35, and £438.70 for Mr Bullock, 53, both of Falstone.

Joanne Waller, the council’s head of community protection, said: “Conditions of a licence are there for a reason: to ensure the safety of the public; to prevent crime, disorder, and public nuisance; and to protect children from harm. We know the overwhelming majority of establishments in County Durham abide by them and we commend them for doing so.

Jimmy Allens Bar and Lounge on Elvet Bridge, Durham City
Jimmy Allens Bar and Lounge on Elvet Bridge, Durham City

“However, in this case, Jimmy Allens was found to have breached its conditions in a number of ways, with breaches found at separate inspections six months apart and one particular breach detected on a number of occasions. Given the reasons licences are in place, we take cases like this extremely seriously and we hope this prosecution and the sentence imposed will act as a reminder to venues of the importance of abiding by their conditions.”

Peterlee Magistrates heard how a council licensing enforcement officer visited Jimmy Allens along with an employee of the Security Industry Authority, in June last year. During that visit an unlicensed door supervisor was found to be working at the premises.

The court heard the breach relating to unlicensed door supervisors happened on a number of occasions and that no checks were carried out by the venue. Additionally, the door supervisor logs were not being kept in accordance with a condition of the venue’s licence.

The records of the door supervisors held by the premises were said to be ‘inadequate’ and didn’t have the supervisors’ full names, referring to many by nicknames. At the time of the June visit and again during a further inspection in December, it was found that the courtyard area of the venue was not being used in accordance with a condition.

This requires a clear boundary to be in place to ensure customers are aware of the limits of the licensed premises. The condition also states that drinks in the paved area will only be served to people at a table and that all drinks in this area will be served by a waiter or waitress.

Clear signs should also be in place to this effect. However, during both inspections, there were “many people” in the courtyard. People were not seated at tables but standing around with drinks and the drinks were being purchased at the bar and taken out to that area.

There was no signage in the area indicating that patrons should be seated and that orders would be taken at the table. The court was told the Bullocks were directors of Belle Leisure Limited, which holds the licence for Jimmy Allens.

Mrs Bullock, who was designated premises supervisor, was interviewed and accepted that she should have been in better control of the venue as the named person on the licence.

Mr Bullock was also interviewed and said he had been involved with the premises under the previous management. As far as he knew they’d run the premises as it had been run before, and he had not fully appreciated the conditions on the licence.

Mr Bullock said that once he had been made aware of the issues with door supervisors following the visit in June, he had tried working with the head doorman to put things right. However, when it became apparent that wasn’t happening, he changed door companies.

Neither Mr or Mrs Bullock was present in court and magistrates found the case proved in their absence.

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