A POPULAR West Dorset entertainment venue has had a change to its licence approved after councillors received hundreds of letters of support.
The Electric Palace in Bridport applied for the amendment after owners discovered the foyer of the historic cinema building was not licensed for the consumption of alcohol, to play music or show films.
Following an appeal made by owner Peter Hitchin, almost 350 people sent letters in support of approving the change.
But some residents spoke out against the application, claiming that some events at the venue cause noise pollution and lead to anti-social behaviour.
Granting the licence amendment at a meeting of the West Dorset District Council licensing sub-committee, Cllr Daryl Turner said: “We have listened and read all the evidence and concluded that the application should be granted subject to mandatory conditions as set out in the Licensing Act 2003.”
The meeting at South Walks House in Dorchester heard from a number of people, including Mr Hitchin. He said: “We never wanted to upset the neighbours.
“This is a well-loved venue and is a great asset to the town.
“There is a lot of apprehension that there’s going to be a nightclub in the foyer, but that isn’t going to happen.”
County Councillor for Bridport Ros Kayes also added her voice in support of the application.
She said: “The town would be devastated if the Electric Palace were to close if they were not able to use that space.”
Ceri Stephens, a solicitor speaking on behalf of some of the residents on South Street, said: “It’s important to make clear that none of the objectors are seeking the closure of the palace.”
She added that it is live music events in the foyer which cause a nuisance to neighbours late at night.
Councillors received 11 letters speaking out against the application. One resident, speaking on behalf of the people living at Folly Mill Lane Lodge, told the sub-committee there had been a ‘considerable amount of disturbance’ following hip-hop events at the venue, including youths urinating in the street and stealing car number plates.
But Christopher Pike, who helps organise some of the events at the Electric Palace, said he had not seen any disturbance or bad behaviour outside the direct environment of the venue that night.
Cllr Turner said: “There have been a significant number of comments and allegations but in reality none have been in direct conflict with the application.
“In eight years, no formal action has taken place in relation to activity in the foyer by police or other authorities.
“We have taken into account the assurances made by Mr Hitchin and his manager who have every intention of working with residents and the community. If there is a significant problem in the future a formal review of the licence could take place.”
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Hitchin said: “We are very pleased that this matter is finally resolved.
“The Electric Palace is now able to continue with its programme of small events in the foyer. We thank everybody for their support and look forward to seeing our enthusiastic audiences once again.”