Bad news for Oliver’s army
HUNTINGDON S only nightclub has closed and is unlikely to reopen, according to its owner. The club s proprietor David O Brian has been in a long dispute with Huntingdonshire District Council over noise issues. But the row ended in court last Thursday whe
HUNTINGDON'S only nightclub has closed and is unlikely to reopen, according to its owner.
The club's proprietor David O'Brian has been in a long dispute with Huntingdonshire District Council over noise issues.
But the row ended in court last Thursday when Ethos nightclub - formerly known as Oliver's - was closed after a judge dismissed its appeal against a noise abatement order imposed by HDC
In reality the order requires the club to either turn down its music or invest a large amount of money in additional noise insulation - both of which are unacceptable, according to Mr O'Brian.
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HDC began a prosecution against the club after a complaint from a neighbour in December 2005, before issuing a noise abatement order against Mr O'Brian in 2006.
After a lengthy appeal process against the order, Mr O'Brian's case was dismissed at Peterborough Magistrates Court last week, with HDC awarded £36,000 in legal costs.
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He said he was devastated by the decision, which has forced him to close the club and left him considering the future of the nightspot.
"It [the court case] had been weighing on all of our minds ever since the first complaint was made," he said.
"The most disappointing thing is that we were granted the licence by HDC in the first place and now they have turned round and effectively taken it away."
Malcolm Lyons, chairman of the Huntingdonshire branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "This ludicrous decision is another nail in the coffin of Huntingdon and I have every sympathy with Mr O'Brian.
"Huntingdon needs a nightclub. We need to be a town for all ages and this will harm the economy.
"Of course, it is not nice to live with noise but, looking at the broader picture, the council were the ones who granted the licence in the first place."
On Friday evening, hundreds of under-18s were left disappointed when they were turned away from the venue by Mr O'Brian.
He said: "I am just so disappointed that some sort of compromise could not have been found, but since the court proceedings began there seems to have been no turning back."
Mr O'Brian claims that when he opened the club HDC informed him the nearest residential building was 250 metres away, near Huntingdon bus station.
He said he would take some time out to consider his options because installing sound insulation could cost about £1million, as structural work on the building would be needed.
The only other option, Mr O'Brian says, would be to turn down the music to a level akin to that of a loud radio.
"There is simply no way that people would come through the door for that," he said.
The club, a former cinema in All Saints' Passage, opened in August 2005 and more than 35,000 revellers have gone through its doors.
Dr Sue Lammin, head of environmental and community health services at HDC, said: "The council strives to work with businesses in a constructive manner and to negotiate informal resolutions wherever possible.
"It was unfortunate in this instance that we were left with no option other than to serve the abatement notice.
"In the judge's decision it is clearly acknowledged that the council acted reasonably and correctly throughout the investigation and the enforcement procedure that followed."
INFORMATION: Do you think the council were right to prosecute Ethos? Is this another nail in the coffin for nightlife in Huntingdon? E-mail your views to firstname.lastname@example.org