South Yorkshire Police submitted an application to Barnsley Council to review Sugar Club’s premises licence after they received a tip-off claiming there were a ‘number of underage people drinking’ in the bar in January.
Following the complaint, police officers attended the venue, on Pitt Street, and confronted four customers who admitted to being 15 and 16.
However, club bosses refuted the claims, saying they operate the ‘Challenge 25’ policy - where anyone believed to be under 25 are asked for ID - and believe anyone found inside who was underage where let in via a side gate.
A police statement in the licence review application - which took place at Barnsley Town Hall on Monday - read: “Since January 2022 and the concerns being brought to our attention about the premises, there have been 31 telephone conversations connected with the venue, 61 visits conducted, and 15 visits completed by licensing officers.
“South Yorkshire Police feel that the Sugar Club have failed to alleviate our concerns in connection with prevention of crime and disorder and protection of children from harm.
“Therefore we have no alternative but to seek revocation of this licence.”
During the meeting, Ashley Stockton, director of the venue, claimed they had been ‘subject to other bars’ hearsay’, adding that police visits to the club had ‘absolutely crippled’ his business.
“I disagree there’s been countless breaches - there’s absolutely no evidence on some of the points,” he told the meeting.
“There is no way I would allow anyone underage to go there.
“We are starting to suspect that other venues are the ‘source of this information’ and are adamant they are going to close the Sugar Club down for their own benefit.
“When the police raid occurred, we were not given any information with regards to numbers or even if any underage were found.
“In response to the comment on the statement from the actual raid, regarding the ‘potential underage girl’ coming down the stairs - this was actually our cleaner at the time who was around 22 years old at the time and had called at Sugar Club with two of her friends, both aged 20 at the time, to collect her wages.
“The raid itself happened at midnight until 3am - the police locked everyone in for three hours and killed the business for months after.
“No other venues but my own in Barnsley town centre are subject to this kind of harassment on a weekly basis.”
Kirsty Green, licensing enforcement officer for South Yorkshire Police, told the hearing that ‘if everything was in order, we would have no reason to visit he premises’.
“There doesn’t seem to be any accountability but I don’t feel they’re being harassed at all.
“I pride myself on the fact that I am not biased in any way.”
Ms Green added that he premises had been treated ‘no differently to any other venue’.
The board made the decision to revoke the license, stating that evidence indicated breaches of licensing conditions had occurred.
The venue has the right to appeal the decision before a magistrates’ court.