A TOWN centre nightclub owner is appealing to the government to do more to help support Barnsley’s night-time economy as he feels they have been ‘left in the dark’ during the pandemic.

Nightclubs across the country were forced to close back in March due to coronavirus restrictions, though 21-year-old Gabriel Hambleton, who owns three clubs in the town, believes more needs to be done to support them during the unprecedented times.

Gabriel received grants at the start of the lockdown period to ensure they can remain running, but due to the rent prices in the town centre he says this money didn’t touch the surface.

He told the Chronicle: “I’m involved with three clubs in the town centre - Bluu, Volt and Secret - and it’s so frustrating for us because we haven’t been given any indication at all when we’re allowed to reopen our doors.

“At the start of lockdown we were given grants for the clubs but our rent is extortionate so it didn’t really touch the surface.

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“It feels like we’ve been forgotten about and it’s really grinding my gears that we’re not getting the help that we need.”

Since the clubs closed earlier this year, they have also seen a rise in attempted break-ins - even leaving Gabriel with a £4,000 office out of action due to some of the damage that has been caused.

“We’re having to get a new roof near enough every week because of the number of attempted break-ins that we’re seeing - we don’t feel like there’s any use going to the police about it anymore because there’s not really much they can do,” he added.

“We’ve had to write-off one of the offices because someone put their foot through the roof when trying to get in - there’s no mercy.

“We’ve also been left with around £8,000 worth of stock that has gone out of date, we’re just waiting to see if any money comes through but it doesn’t look like it will.”

Gabriel runs some of the clubs with his business partner Jerome Chambers, 24, something that he admits does leave them in better stead than those club owners across the country who have a family to provide for.

“We’re seeing much bigger nightclubs across the country close in bigger cities than ours, and it does make you think,” Gabriel said.

“We’re just two young lads so we don’t have families, but there will be club owners that have children and if they keep putting their hands in their own pockets, it might not be long until they can’t afford their mortgages and christmas presents for their kids.

“We don’t really have any options available to us other than to take a loan so it feels more and more like we’re just being forgotten.”

Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley Central, added: “I sympathise with the difficult situation that nightclubs are facing because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The contribution of nightclubs and bars to our local economy is significant, and it is concerning that owners are now facing a cliff-edge as financial support is scaled back.

“It’s welcome that cafes, bars and restaurants are now starting to reopen as the economy begins ticking over once more.

“However, given the nature of nightclubs and that it would be unfeasible to try to reopen with social distancing, I believe that the government should step in and provide continued support to our night time economy.”