Arcade bid for licence sparks town concern

A LICENSING bid for Sanderson Arcade has met with concerns from councillors.

Morpeth II has applied for a premises licence for the shopping centre to stage a variety of entertainment.

Currently, applications are made for each event as it happens, but now the arcade’s management is seeking blanket approval to hold activities at any time between 8am and 10pm.

The licence would include provision for plays, films, sporting events, boxing or wrestling, live music, recorded music and dance, as well as the Christmas lights swtich-on, Hallowe’en and Easter events, retail promotions and fashion shows.

Children’s activity groups, charities and schools could also be accommodated, along with brass bands, jazz bands, soloists and pantos

Events would mainly take place in the piazza, but could be held throughout the centre.

The application to Northumberland County Council states that no event would be permitted without prior consent from Sanderson Arcade management, noise levels would be controlled, risk assessments and safety plans would be carried out and security systems are in place.

However, Morpeth Town Council’s Planning and Transport Committee is seeking assurances about the noise levels and said that no entertainment should take place after 8pm on Sundays.

Coun David Parker said: “In relation to noise, first of all in the town centre there are residential properties and not a significant distance away from Sanderson Arcade. Looking at the proposed hours, you could have noise blasting out at 10 o’clock at night. I don’t think that is necessarily appropriate. I think 10am to 5pm or 6pm would not be unreasonable.”

He added that specific times for each type of activity would be better, and he was worried that some events could disturb shoppers.

Mayor Mark Horton shared the concerns about noise and called for rigorous monitoring from the county council, but said he was generally in favour of the licence.

“I can’t believe that Mr Dransfield would allow any big event that would block off the arcade and stop the shoppers moving up and down,” he said.

“This is a licence to put events on in the town and I don’t have a problem with it. It would be a way to pull people into the town in the early evening and by and large I think this is fine.

“I don’t see an alcohol licence being asked for, which is a big relief. It is just the volume that will have to be monitored and we will see if local residents complain.”

Coun Ken Brown added: “With the Town Team hat on what we are trying to achieve is a more functional, vibrant town centre and this will contribute an awful lot to that. I would like to see a similar set of events planned for the Market Place and I think the Town Team will be coming up with initiatives to run parallel to this. While I have the same concerns about noise, I think we generally should support this.”

Dransfield Properties spokeswoman Amanda Holmes said: “What has happened in the past is that we have applied for a licence as events occur. Applying for a licence in this way just covers the regular events we have at the centre, such as music, the lights switch-on etc.

“We are not planning any evening events on a Sunday and there are no plans for any future events outside our usual varied events diary at Sanderson Arcade. We would of course be happy to discuss this further with the council if it wants us to clarify anything.”