Music scene rallies in bid to save the Hairy Dog

Following a battle with Derby City Council and Derbyshire Police music venue the Hairy Dog has had its premises licence revoked. It is continuing to trade while appealing the decision.

The council’s committee made the decision to revoke the venue’s premises licence following a hearing this week in which a dossier of information was presented building the case against the Dog, including details of incidents of violence the Police had attended and an event which went ahead without a temporary licence.

Councillor Mick Barker, chairman of the committee, said they were aware of the venue’s popularity but their duty was to protect the public. He said the committee believed landlord and manager Paul Keenan had shown “licensing legislation, the Council, police, and the conditions on the premises licence, and in turn, people’s safety.”

He told the Derby Telegraph, “The majority of bars in Derby adhere to licensing legislation and the conditions on their licenses. Licensing legislation is not there to restrict licensed premises but to promote the four licensing objectives. The Hairy Dog is not exempt from this legislation.”

As a result Keenan has announced he is to retire but the committee remained wary due to his commitment to stay involved in promoting shows at the venue. Keenan, who previously ran the Old Bell in Saddlergate as a live music venue, has described the Police’s actions during the hearing as ‘a character attack’ and this has been echoed by the Hairy Dog’s supporters.

A petition was set up by local gig-goer Sam Ward and to date more than 13,000 people have signed in support of the Hairy Dog and rallying against what is seen as an attack on the alternative music scene the venue supports.

In the description of the petition Ward wrote, “The Hairy Dog stands out as the most unique, friendly and welcoming of venues in the city. Everyone from all walks of life, sexualities and gender identities are welcome and treated equally.

“The Hairy Dog is one of the few truly independent pubs left in Derby. Regularly hosting charity and music events as well as helping to raise money for a number of causes. It stands at the heart of Derby’s music scene.”

Bringing in many touring bands and fans from across the country the venue is well known by bands as one of the best on the circuit among punk, metal and alternative music scenes which would otherwise go unserved in Derby. In the run-down and problem-struck Becketwell area of the city the venue is among businesses including Dubrek Studios, The Venue, Smallprint, The Art House, Baby People and Derby Museum and Gallery in the emerging creative and cultural hub.

Should the Hairy Dog close it is unclear where the alternative music scene would be served in the city, further reducing the offer in the city to bands and music fans. The venue has 21 days to make its appeal after which its future will be decided. Keenan says he is confident about winning and the Hairy Dog remaining open and fans are rallying to support that outcome.

You can add your support for the venue and Derby’s music scene via the petition here.

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