New twist in historic Leeds pub’s CCTV issue saga

The interior of The Cardigan Arms, in Kirkstall Road, Leeds. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

The interior of The Cardigan Arms, in Kirkstall Road, Leeds. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

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Fresh doubt has been cast over the future of one of Leeds’s oldest pubs after a row with licensing chiefs took a new turn.

The Cardigan Arms, in Kirkstall Road, celebrated avoiding closure last week after a kind donation of six new cameras from two Yorkshire security firms appeared to have ended a dispute over the quality of its CCTV equipment.

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But the pub’s landlord Mickey Thompson claims Leeds City Council officers have deemed that more work needs to be done and staff need CCTV training, issuing a notice to improve by January 2. If it does not comply a further closure notice could be put in place.

Mr Thompson had faced a £1,200 bill for new camera equipment and potential closure until Bradford-based Omega Security Systems and Northern CCTV Services upgraded the old system for free in late November.

A council spokeswoman has confirmed enforcement officers will revisit The Cardigan soon, after the landlord failed to demonstrate the CCTV met West Yorkshire Police standards.

Mr Thompson said: “We are being made an example of. We are being treated like a bar that has trouble every weekend and we’re not. We are a community pub. There are more cameras than customers. It’s bad for business, we’ve already had people cancelling events.”

He said council licensing officers attended the pub last week and informed him that the system needed playback of up to 31 days, which meant the CCTV may need upgrading while he was told all pub staff would have to be trained to use it.

Omega and Northern CCTV have issued him further equipment so that the CCTV meets those standards but Mr Thompson feels the council’s approach is unnecessary. He said: “It’s just overzealous. I will be making a formal complaint once all this has finished and done.”

Until the threat of closure arose, the venue had been in the midst of a revival. Mr Thompson took over the lease in August pledging to upgrade its PA speaker system and return the venue to prominence as a pub and music venue.

The pub is one of only nine heritage city pubs listed by Leeds Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) as being of national importance due to their historic interiors.

Mike Hampshire, chair of Leeds CAMRA, said the group is hoping to submit an ‘Asset of Community Value’ petition to the council to try to protect The Cardigan’s role as a community pub and ward off developers.

He said: “Particularly in that area there’s not anything like it, it’s a unique venue. It’s really important we keep it running and open.”

To sign CAMRA’s petition to make The Cardigan a community asset email branchcontact@leeds-camra.com.

Chicken Karahi, pilau rice and naan bread.
 PIC: Bruce Rollinson

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