Students’ union pledges change after accident

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SHEFFIELD University Students’ Union has been allowed to keep its licence without extra conditions - despite a serious accident involving a woman who had been at an all-day party involving cut-price drinks inside the venue.

Union managers have pledged to organise a commission with police and licensing officials to attempt to change the agenda for student entertainment with less emphasis on drink.

The hearing took place after an 18-year-old student was left fighting for life when she was struck by a double-decker bus in Glossop Road moments after she left the Christmas Day party in the union’s Bar One venue, where half price pints were on offer from 10am.

She remains in a serious condition in Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital, but is said to be making an excellent recovery.

Supt Martin Hemingway, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “It appeared to us that young people were being encouraged to drink irresponsibly starting early and continuing into the evening. It may be that as a result of that, a serious road accident occurred in which someone very nearly died.”

The meeting heard how students queued from the early hours to get into Bar One for the event on Wednesday, December 14, some drinking in the queue.

Inside the venue, Supt Hemingway highlighted concerns about beer being served in two-pint glasses, adding: “There are issues around management, supervision and consumption”.

Although 30 door staff were on duty, he said there ‘didn’t seem to be a great deal of supervision of people leaving the premises’.

Supt Hemingway revealed police have been called to previous incidents in the last year at Bar One, including disorder involving 20 people, an assault and two drunken people who needed to be taken to hospital.

But Graeme Cushion, legal representative for the students’ union, said staff acted properly when dealing with each of the earlier incidents, adding they were a small number for a venue with 600,000 visits a year.

He said: “There needs to be a cultural change and are proposing as a solution a new commission to take the lead in the agenda, which we would like to invite the police and representatives of the licensing authority to be part of.”

Mr Cushion warned restricting the union’s licence, which also covers its other bars and entertainment venues, would limit its ability to compete with alternative venues whose standards are ‘not as high’.

Stephen Hubbard, general manager of the union, said staff were ‘extremely upset’ about the accident, but denied the promotions were irresponsible. He said drinks were served in two-pint glasses to avoid students having to return to the bar while watching entertainment that had been laid on.

The union said it aimed to ‘raise the bar’ in terms of providing safe student entertainment and had been recognised in Sheffield Council’s Best Bar None awards to honour the most well-run venues.

Coun John Campbell, chairman of the licensing committee, said: “There will be no change to the conditions. There was not the evidence to support the police review.”

After the meeting, Supt Hemingway said: “It is clear the university authorities and the staff running Bar One take their responsibilities seriously and have reacted very positively.

“I am pleased they will be involving ourselves and the council licensing committee in their own reviews and look forward to working with them to improve matters.

“I am surprised the licensing committee found no link between the events on the day and a drinks promotion starting so early, but they considered the matter seriously and that is their view.”

■ Police investigators are appealing for a man who helped the 18-year-old woman after she was hit by the bus, giving initial first aid at the scene before paramedics arrived.

He is described as being white and aged between 30 and 40. He had short hair and was wearing dark clothing at the time of the collision.

The accident happened at about 5.15pm on Wednesday, December 14. Anyone with information is asked to call South Yorkshire Police on 101.