Derby music venue the Hairy Dog is again facing licensing issues following reports of violence and disorder and could find itself shut down.
The council’s general licensing sub committee will consider a dossier of claims against the venue when it meets on 24 July and it can decide to revoke the license, or change or modify its conditions. The council’s own licensing team applied for the review and is backed by Derbyshire Police.
However, owner Paul Keenan, has accused the police of a ‘witch hunt’ and says the venue is one of the safest in the city. He ran into trouble earlier in the year and was fined £6000 when he was deemed to have run unlicensed wrestling events.
The venue regularly brings touring bands to the city and is especially respected and supportive of the punk and alternative music scenes. Located on Beckett Street a crowdfunder ran earlier this year to raise funds for vital building improvements, and having hit its target changes have already begun as the smaller capacity room has gone.
The dossier contains reports of violence and disorder at the premises, including an incident which left a doorman unconscious. The Derby Telegraph reports it contains a letter from the licensing team, reading, “This request is for the revocation of the premises licence, as additional conditions or removal of the designated premises supervisor will not give the licensing authority any confidence that the management will comply with the legislation, or promote crime and disorder licensing objective in the future.”
Keenan responded in defence of the venue. He said, “The only real violent incident that took place was having a doorman knocked out. That was after a Derby County match. We do not allow football people in. We don’t want trouble.
“We’re one of the safest venues in Derby. We do not have any incidents. We are a live music venue and people travel hundreds of miles across the UK to come to us. We bring more people to Derby than any other venue. There’s probably 400 people a week coming from outside of Derby into the city to come to the Hairy Dog. They’re spending their time and money in Derby.”
Claiming they were the only grassroots venue in the city he continued, “This is a witch hunt and we are an easy target. There’s violence at other bars and clubs in Derby but the police don’t want to take them on. We’re a small company. If they took the bigger venues on then the lawyers they would bring it would run rings around them.
“Every time I have to go to one of these hearings it costs be £10,000 to £15,000. That’s money that should be spent on entertainment.
“We’re offering a service here in Derby. We used to have the Assembly Rooms but that has been shut for years. Derby Arena is a total waste of space and is losing money. We are the only place putting on entertainment in this city.
“I don’t understand why they do not want us. We raise thousands and thousands for charity. We do more for charity than anybody else.
He said trouble was from local people who were refused entry for being too drunk and had been kicked out of other city centre bars. He was adamant he would appeal the decision is the license was revoked or conditions changed.