Popular nightclub warns Devonshire Cat ‘won’t be the last’ Sheffield pub to close
Sheffield Council has insisted it is doing “all it can” to support local businesses after it was warned the closure of a popular pub ‘won’t be the last’ unless they provide more help.
The Devonshire Cat on Wellington Street ‘will not be re-opening as an Abbeydale Brewery pub’, management said in a statement on Tuesday, describing the impact of Covid-19 as “devastating”. The brewery has run the pub since 2014.
The city centre venue said its rateable value was too high to receive a business support grant from Sheffield City Council.
Following the statement a spokesperson for nearby live music venue and nightclub Corporation, based on Milton Street, warned more closures could be imminent unless the Council take further action.
They said: “We are all saddened to hear the news that The Devonshire Cat will be unable to reopen following this period of forced closure due in whole or in part to not receiving any grant funding from Sheffield City Council.
“We urge the Council to not let this happen and to approve The Devonshire Cat a discretionary grant. The Council’s decision to peg the qualification criteria to those of the previous grant is fundamentally flawed and this should be urgently rectified.”
They added: “The Devonshire Cat might be the first, but unless the Council act, they won't be the last.”
In response, councillor Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for business and investment, said: “I really sympathise with the Devonshire Cat and the hardworking staff who will be affected by this closure. The Council is doing all it can to support local businesses, but we are restricted by government funding. We have consistently said the government needs to provide more money to cover all of those that need support. Unfortunately, this means we have therefore had to make some very tough decisions about eligibility criteria.
“Although the Sheffield Covid-19 grant scheme has allowed the Council an element of discretion in providing grant support to businesses and charities not available under the initial business rate grants scheme, our discretion has been heavily restricted because of government rules on how the money was to be used as well as the limited amount of funding that has been made available.”
Cllr Iqbal called for more funding from central government to help Sheffield businesses – and more flexibility on how it can be used.
He added: “In Sheffield, we established eligibility based on two factors: businesses who are not eligible for other Covid-19 financial support (such as the government-backed loan scheme), and those businesses and organisations who were not eligible for a business rate grant due to not being the named ratepayer. Unfortunately, the Devonshire Cat were not eligible for a grant under the scheme.
“The Council wants to support more business, it is vital for the recovery of our economy, but to do so we need more money from the government, and more discretion locally about how it can be used. We will continue to lobby Westminster to achieve this.”