A North Belfast old boys club has received a renewal for an entertainment licence despite complaints from a neighbour about excessive noise and alleged abuse from patrons.
At Belfast City Council ’s recent meeting of its Licensing Committee, elected members agreed to give St Malachy’s College Old Boys’ Association, at 442 Antrim Road in the Fortwilliam Area, a renewal of its seven-day annual indoor entertainments licence, which it has held since 1998.
The association can serve drinks and hold entertainment Monday to Saturday, 11.30am to 11.00pm and Sunday 12.30pm to 11pm. In addition to the normal hours shown, the club, which has a capacity of 333 people, may apply for up to 104 extensions a year to sell alcohol until 1am on any day of the week, at the discretion of the police.
However, a formal objection was made by a neighbour, who complained of noise nuisance and abusive behaviour from patrons gathering at the rear of the premises. The neighbour also raised issues of nuisance caused by beer deliveries and collections – and failure to comply with conditions attached to the entertainment licence.
The objector appeared at the committee but insisted on giving testimony under restrictions, away from the public. All correspondence from the neighbour to the council was also restricted, to protect their identity.
The council report states: “The objector submitted video clips on two memory sticks to support their objection. The video clips were dated from July 2, 2021 to May 27, 2022.
“The issues arising from these videos relate to patron conversations in the rear garden, beer bottle delivery and collections causing noise, damage to a wall at the objector's property, alleged to be from beer bottle collections, and patrons at rear garden of premises calling the objector names as she videoed.
“The Building Control Service sent a letter offering to facilitate a meeting between the objector and applicant but this offer was not accepted. The service also offered to meet with the objector independently, but this too has not been accepted.”
The report states the Old Boys’ Association had not been made aware of any complaints about the club and adds “had they been aware of any problems they would have investigated these with a view to taking any reasonable steps to address them”.
The report states: “They have had no complaints raised with them by either the PSNI or the council’s noise team. They are open to discussion on any steps they can take to address the objector’s concerns. Other residents in the area are supportive of the club and have no complaints.”
The PSNI and Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service were consulted and both confirmed no objections to the application.
St. Malachy’s College Old Boys’ Association received objections for its initial grant and first renewal in the late 1990s but continued renewal without objection for the years 2000-2008.
In March 2009, an objection to the renewal of the licence was resolved through a resident meeting with the club and with special conditions being added to the licence. The licence subsequently has been renewed under delegated authority with no objections received on each subsequent year until the present.