A controversial Leeds City Centre bar has will remain open, following a hearing on whether to revoke its licence.
Norman Bar in Call Lane was forced to close temporarily by Leeds City Council following a mass brawl in the bar on March 24. A further council licensing meeting took place today to determine whether it should be allowed to reopen.
But representatives of the bar, councillors and West Yorkshire Police agreed the bar should be allowed to keep its licence subject to further safety conditions, including ID scanners and extra door staff at the premises.
Police licensing officer PC Kath Arkle told the meeting: “There is a lot of CCTV footage (from the incident) and this is still being examined and further arrests are expected.
“Public safety has been maintained since the incident happened. We need to know what we can do to make sure this can’t happen again.”
She added that conditions should be placed on the bar for it to be allowed to reopen – these included requiring polycarbonate plastic glasses to be used instead of glass. There would also be a minimum requirement for four door staff at any one time – and that they should each wear body cameras.
Read more: Recap of the licensing meeting
ID scanners will be introduced for those visiting Norman.
PC Arkle said: “The ID scanner means anybody who goes into those premises has to present a passport or driving licence. We then have a name or a time.
“The people who have been involved in these incidents do not want their details recording. We feel this is necessary and proportionate.
“There would be a minimum of four door supervisors, with a maximum of seven. They will have chest cams operating 100 per cent of the time and will get audio as well as visual. We will see that as a real deterrent.”
Speaking on behalf of the bar, Paddy Whur said: “We did not challenge the interim steps [licence suspension] and we haven’t done since. There is always a commercial issue in the background, but my clients took a sensible and serious approach to this."
Two groups has caused trouble in other bars
Paddy Whur told the meeting that the groups who ended up fighting had caused trouble in other premises that night.
He said: "If it had have been called through, those groups would not have been allowed in and we would not have been here.
“It’s that night that causes us to be here today. When they turned up in two separate groups they didn’t exhibit any issues that would not have let them be allowed in.
“That is always the case in these cases. There is always a trigger event that is out of the ordinary.
“I don’t have any issues with what is being put forward. We have worked backwards and forwards to get conditions that both sides will feel are worthy of being put forward.
“I am not aware of operators using ID machines. This immediately logs your ID, If people don’t want to be known they are in a certain place at a certain time, they will not feel comfortable to go there.
“When people know they are recorded people do behave differently. It has the effect of dampening potential flashpoints. They also create a defence mechanism for the operator, an insurance policy to have data."
Mr Whur added that the ID and body cam systems would comply with data protection legislation.
He added: “It checks whether you are of age as well, and gives you the ability to check who is on the screen. It is a robust system.”
Councillor blames grime music
Chairing the meeting, Coun Al Garthwaite said: “I understand that the type of music being played has contributed to trouble, certainly in the past.
“There was a time when the music was changed, but it was found that the customers ceased to come in such numbers.
“I assume this is grime, I know that grime is associated with trouble.”
Mr Whur responded: “At times Norman bar has a different type of music to the rest of Call Lane and it may contribute to how people behave.
“We are careful with the DJs that we book. And the DJ has to show their full playlist to make sure we don’t offer the type of music that has been an Achilles heel in the past.”
Other ID scanners
The meeting was then told that other nightclubs in the city, such as Bar Risa, Yates’s in Woodhouse Lane and Space have used ID scanners in the past.
Following a lengthy discussion in private among panel members, they resolved to allow the bar to keep its licence, while adding the modifications suggested by West Yorkshire Police.
A council legal officer said: “The panel were concerned at the incidents of violence and disorder but the licence-holders have taken this very seriously.
“The discussions between the parties had led to sensible and appropriate measures. We hope cooperation between licence holder and West Yorkshire Police will continue.”
The suspension on the bar’s opening was also lifted, meaning it can reopen as soon as the measures are in place.