The Leadmill: Landlord granted 'shadow licence' for famous Sheffield music venue despite objections
The shadow licence was granted with a number of conditions attached, with the decision announced today following a meeting earlier this week
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Sheffield Council announced today, Friday, September 22, that the application by MVL Properties 2017 had been successful following a meeting of the council's licensing sub-committee on Monday, September 18.
The shadow licence was granted with a number of conditions attached, which include the submission of a 'noise management plan' and a written search policy, a requirement for all door supervisors to be supplied by an SIA-Approved Contractor Scheme company, the use of a lockable 'drugs box', and the implementation of the Challenge 25 scheme ensuring anyone who appears to be aged under 25 is required to provide ID proving they are over 18.
What does the decision mean for The Leadmill?
The result marks a first victory for the landlord, which, as Electric Group already runs music venues including the Electric Brixton in London and SWX in Bristol, in its bid to eject the current operators and take over the running of the premises on Leadmill Road in Sheffield city centre.
Despite a shadow licence being granted to the landlord, The Leadmill is expected to continue running as normal for now, under the current operators, led by its director Phil Mills, with upcoming events there set to go ahead as planned.
The shadow licence does not affect the current premises licence held by The Leadmill but it allows MVL Properties 2017 to run the venue should that licence be revoked or surrendered.
The Leadmill, any other interested party, has 21 days in which to appeal the decision to a magistrates' court.
What happens next in the battle over The Leadmill's future?
An eviction hearing is expected to take place at the High Court in Leeds early next year to decide whether MVL Properties can force the operators, whose 20-year lease expired in March this year, out of the building.
Dominic Madden, co-owner of MVL Properties and Electric Group, has previously said he intends to invest in the building to ensure its long-term future as a music venue.
The Leadmill's operators have been running a Save The Leadmill campaign, describing their fight to stay in the building as a 'battle for the soul of Sheffield'.
What was said at the licensing meeting?
Sarah Clover, barrister for The Leadmill, had voiced concerns at the licensing hearing about the landlord's track record of running other venues, citing a number of negative reviews and press reports.
Responding to those concerns, Mr Madden said: "The idea that we’re some sort of dodgy cowboy outfit that operates dodgy events, that pushes people in and allows promoters to oversell tickets is just nonsense."
Solicitor-advocate Paddy Whur, representing Mr Madden, told the meeting: "You’ve got a responsible operator who’s got a fabulous track record and he wants to invest in these premises in Sheffield to do what he’s done elsewhere."
What has Sheffield Council said about The Leadmill licensing decision?
Following the licensing ruling, Sheffield Council's leader, Councillor Tom Hunt, said the application had been approved because the sub-committee found that the applicants demonstrated they could uphold all four of the licensing objectives.
Those objectives are the prevention of crime and disorder, the revention of public nuisance, public safety, and the protection of children from harm.
Coun Hunt added: "As a statutory licensing authority, the council has a legal duty to be fair, unbiased and treat each licence application the same. The application for a shadow licence for ‘The Leadmill’ by MVL Properties 2017 Ltd was treated impartially and the case was considered on its own merits.
“I’d like to reassure residents that the premises licence held by The Leadmill’s management team remains valid and the venue is able to remain open and run as normal.”
The Leadmill had encouraged people to submit objections to the council, which received a total of 205 submissions. It organised a rally outside Sheffield Town Hall, where the licensing meeting took place.
What has The Leadmill said about the decision?
In a statement, The Leadmill said the 'fight for the future of The Leadmill and its staff is far from over' and it would be 'considering our next steps over the coming few days'.
It added: "All scheduled events will still go ahead as planned and we will continue to programme events further into the future while the legal process continues.
"We would like to take this moment to give a shout out to all of our incredible staff who have continued to put their heart and soul into their jobs despite having this hanging over them for the last 18 months. It is taking its toll and we are doing everything we can to help with the strain on their mental health."
What has The Leadmill's landlord said?
Dominic Madden, co-founder of Electric Group, said: "We are pleased to have been granted a shadow premises license for The Leadmill. This is a significant milestone – and we would like to extend our gratitude to Sheffield City Council and the Licencing Committee for focusing on facts, not smears, and our outstanding track record of compliance.
"We hope that this decision can mark the beginning of a new chapter, where we can put the hostilities of the Save the Leadmill campaign behind us. Our repeated intention has always been clear – to secure The Leadmill as a thriving music venue for music artists and community projects."