A DORCHESTER bar has been granted a licence to stay open until 4am.

Members of the West Dorset District Council licensing sub-committee approved an application made by Four D owners Alex and Nikki Ford for late-night opening on Fridays and Saturdays.

Speaking after the hearing, Mrs Ford said: “We are really happy it has been granted and we hope it helps to breathe a bit of nightlife back into Dorchester.”

The couple told the sub-committee at South Walks House that there is a demand for late-night openings in the county town following the success of Brewery Square.

Mr Ford said: “People like the option of going somewhere after they have had dinner or watched a film, and why not a venue like ours which is properly and professionally run to a high standard?”

He added: “I think it will only benefit Dorchester if we can encourage more people to stay and spend their money here, rather than going off to another town like Weymouth or Bournemouth.”

Councillors received 12 letters of objection to the application from residents concerned about noise pollution and disturbances late at night when people were leaving the premises.

Ward councillor Susie Hosford was unable to attend the meeting, but wrote a letter in support of residents’ concerns.

She said: “The objections raised are based on past experience and a reasonable belief that there is nothing to prevent the same problems arising again.

“There are a significant number of residential properties which are likely to be affected and while people living in the town centre expect disturbances, they do not expect it until 4am on a regular basis.”

But Mrs Ford told councillors that a later opening time would encourage people to leave at staggered times rather than ‘en masse’.

Mr Ford added that it was unfortunate they were being ‘tarred with the same brush’ as previous owners.

He said: “I understand residents think we are just another couple trying to make money off the bar but that’s not what we are about. Our main clientele are in their 30s, people with families who are going out to have a drink with friends.”

Presenting a report to the sub-committee, licensing officer David Sycamore said there had been no objections from relevant authorities such as Environmental Health and no complaints from residents during four events where a temporary late-licence had been granted.

Sub-committee chair, Councillor Keith Day, said the owners had made a ‘long and detailed list of improvements’ since taking over the property.