Police bid to block nightclub reopening

The Niche night club, Sheffield.
The Niche night club, Sheffield.
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POLICE are trying to block plans to reopen the former Niche nightclub in Sheffield city centre by former employees of the venue.

Janet Pope, a former Niche employee, and Francis Pearson, former designated premises supervisor when Niche reopened at Chrater Square, have formed a company called Next Level Entertainment Limited, which is applying to reopen the old Niche site on Sidney Street.

They have recruited another former Niche staff member Kelly Francis, aged 23, who they hope to install as designated premises supervisor at the new club, to be called ‘Nemos’. They are seeking permission to open until 6am each morning.

Next Level’s application is to be considered at a Sheffield Council licensing board hearing on Thursday.

But an objection has been made on behalf of South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable Med Hughes.

The objection says: “The grounds are based on the prevention of crime and disorder. The premises has previously been used as a Niche venue.

“We are concerned the premises would attract the same clientele due to the applicant having strong connections to Niche.”

Police said when the Sidney Street premises were occupied by Niche, they ‘attracted large numbers of people who have, or were associated with persons who have criminal records.

The objection also says police had been called to firearms incidents, with ‘weapons being carried by customers and discharged from moving vehicles’.

The premises were shut down for three months under a crackhouse closure order in November 2005 and have been boarded up ever since, with Niche moving to Eyre Street, then Charter Square before closing last year after tough conditions were imposed following the stabbing of five people.

In the application, Next Level said despite applying for the late opening seven days a week, they planned to trade ‘primarily on Saturday nights plus any bank holiday and New Year’s Eve’ – and would notify police of any other openings.

The company said it would also install CCTV to police requirements, operate a ‘Challenge 25’ proof of age scheme, have entry by membership only, metal detectors at each entrance and join the Sheffield Licence Watch scheme.

■ A meeting of the licensing board due to take place yesterday to review the Empire Bar’s licence has been postponed and a new date has not yet been revealed. The premises, in Charter Square, have been closed down by police due to further recent incidents of violence and disorder.