At Londonderry Magistrates Court earlier today the Deputy District Judge Liam McStay granted a licencing application to the directors of the Nerve Centre, despite opposition from the PSNI.
The court heard that the premises, on Magazine Street in the City Centre, already had a licence but it did not relate to late opening and under it the organisation would not be able to open tomorrrow night, Saturday, for a dance night with DJ Seb Fontaine - an English house music DJ.
Appealing against the objection to the late licence, Tony Doherty, who is employed at the Nerve Centre and organises the events there, said that the Centre had begun operating about 15 years ago following the amalgamation of the North West Music Collective and the local Film Collective, with the aim of development and education purposes. He said the centre ran as an education facility delivering direct skills to people in music or film making.
“There is always an educational element to our work and we believe that it is important for people to be exposed to music and film and to different cultures. In the 80s and 90s not a lot of bands were touring Northern Ireland and the Nerve Centre was an opportunity for people to see slightly different avant garde music and films, stuff that is not catered for in bars and clubs,” he said, adding that the Nerve Centre had charitable status and was run by a Board of Trustees.
He said Saturday night’s event was a lead on from an educational event with the BBC Radio Academy, and was a dance event as opposed to a mainstream event with live music, hence the need for a late licence.
Mr Doherty said that the centre had not run a late event for almost two months and the visit by DJ Fontaine was part of the drive to stage some sub-genre acts and events with an educational slant to them.
“It is impossible to run an event of this type without a late licence. We would look nanny-ish if we tried to events of this type and have to send everyone home early,” he said.
The only objection to the DJ dance night came from the PSNI and a Police Constable told the court that the reason for the objection to the granting of the licence was in relation to logistics of trying to police the town centre.
He said the PSNI had to plan and deploy human resources to police closing time months in advance and the application for another late licence emptying into the town centre at the same time as other premises meant there was another 250 to 300 people coming out of a licensed premises that needed resources which meant resources would have to be taken away from other areas where they were needed. He said there would be no objection to the premises emptying out at 11pm and the PSNI’s human resources could be staggered to cope.
Noting that there were no objections to the licence application by the Nerve Centre under the Licencing Order, the Deputy District Judge said the application for the licence fell within legislation and he did not think it appropriate that a dance night with a DJ should be confined to the territory of 8pm to 11pm bands and bars. He added that the PSNI would have to look more broadly at licencing applications and adapt.