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Bristol nightclub Lizard Lounge permitted to stay open until 4am on Sunday nights

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A long-established Bristol nightclub has won permission to stay open until 4am on Sunday nights after battling to survive the toughest year of its 25-year history.

Lizard Lounge on Clifton Triangle used to have to kick out patrons at 2am on Sundays, two hours earlier than on every other day of the week.

Now customers can keep buying alcohol, drinking and dancing for longer, but the club owners say the extra time will make it easier for staff to manage their orderly departure.

READ MORE: Bristol nightclub ‘may never open doors again’ as coronavirus threatens future

The Queens Road bar and club, popular with students, cut its opening hours in March last year, before the first lockdown, and did not reopen until July 19 this year.

It launched a crowdfunding campaign in October 2020 in a bid to survive what it described as its “toughest ever” year.

Julius Weithers from the nightclub told a licensing hearing this month that the later Sunday opening hours were to “help the business move through the pandemic onto the next phase of development”.

“We also were looking at ways to make the venue safer in relation to clientele when exiting the venue,” he said.

Staff try to get people to leave the club “in waves rather than all in one go” and extending the opening hours will make that easier, he said.

“We bring the energy levels down and they disperse naturally over a longer period of time,” he said.

The Lizard Lounge falls within the Bristol City Centre cumulative impact area (CIA), where it is much harder for venues to get new or extended alcohol licences because the area is considered at “saturation point” with licensed premises.

“In particular this policy relates to alcohol-led premises and premises that might keep people in the area in the challenging times for the police which are generally indicated to be between midnight and 4am on any night,” senior licensing officer Abigail Holman told the licensing committee on August 12.

Avon and Somerset Police did not object to the application, the meeting heard.

Four residents objected, but Mr Weithers pointed out that all of them lived outside Clifton ward and “some significant distance” from the Lizard Lounge.



Haunted House Friday at the Lizard Lounge (image from October 2017)

“None of the dwellings above or around our venue have presented any representation,” he said. “We’ve got a great record with students and locals and communities. Our venue has a great history of safe events.”

Mr Weithers said all areas of the club are covered by CCTV and he was in the process of adding extra cameras.

The club has recently changed its security firm to a firm trained and licensed by the Security Industry authority, he added.

Joanne Thorne, who owns AJ Security Bristol Ltd and works at the Lizard Lounge, said security staff wear bodycams both inside and outside the venue.

“There’s normally a team of anywhere from four to six people and one is always a lady so any problems, we’re able to look after the women, make sure they’re safe, any vulnerable people,” she said. “All my guys have had all the relevant training that they need to have, right down from terrorism to first aid.”

Mr Weithers said security staff tell exiting patrons to leave quietly and move on quickly.

“Despite the representations that kind of paint us in a negative picture, we do add more than just a place for people to come and drink alcohol to this city. That’s not what we are, that’s not what we represent,” he said.

Granting the licence variation, the Bristol City Council licensing subcommittee chair, councillor Brenda Massey, said: “The subcommittee does not consider the short extension in hours will add to the cumulative impact in the area and considers that the conditions will suitably mitigate the concerns raised.”

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