A TOWN centre bar has closed its doors for the last time after the owners were forced to call time on the venture due to the ‘drastic demise’ in trade following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Opium - No Ten, based on Peel Parade, opened its doors to the public for the first time in 2010 with the aim of becoming the ‘perfect independent indie music venue’.
In the last 13 years acts such as The Blossoms, Reverend and the Makers, Slaves and Twang have played at the venue - but this week the owners, John Asquith and Glen Hinchliffe, confirmed they will no longer be able to open their doors for music lovers.
In a joint statement they said: “Opium has been something we’ve been so proud of and we’ve loved having everyone there all along for the journey - like one big family.
“Unfortunately, as is the case for many other businesses - particularly the small, independent and those in hospitality - the demise in trade has been drastic since Covid.
“It has crippled the hospitality industry, especially the late-night venues.
“Alongside this there has been a dramatic change in drinking culture.”
The pair also criticised Barnsley Council’s ‘lack of support’ and their ‘intention to move all hospitality to the Glass Works’.
“They’re offering unaffordable rent for an overpriced council property that only multi-million pound companies will ever be able to afford,” they added.
“We fully supported the positive changes to our town, but feel like it has had a detrimental effect on many local businesses with many forgotten.
“An example of this is the very first Christmas after Covid, a time when the local bars and restaurants should have been buzzing, all in desperate need of trade.
“Barnsley Council pulled trade away from the bars to Mandela Gardens where they had hired an out-of-town tipi company.
“Although we hope we are wrong, we feel that recent events in the Glass Works are just the beginning.”
They said they have been left with no choice but to shut up shop.
They added: “We have tried to stay afloat, we have given it our everything, but with mounting debts, the change in drinking culture and the lack of support from our local council, we have been left with no choice.”
Coun Robin Franklin, cabinet spokesperson for regeneration and culture, said the local authority is supporting local bars and pubs.
“We’re saddened to hear about the closing of Opium in Barnsley town centre,” he said.
“It’s a tough time for businesses and we are supporting our night-time and evening economy as much as possible.
“Through investment in significant regeneration over recent years, our vision for a modern, attractive, and safe town centre has become a reality.
“We’re seeing big increases in footfall across the wider town centre.
“For example, in quarter one of this year, footfall was up 47 per cent compared to 2021 on Cheapside, and the 2023 town centre events are currently seeing a 20 per cent increase in footfall compared to 2022.
“We’re proud of our night-time economy, and our town centre has been awarded Purple Flag status for four consecutive years.
“This means that it offers an entertaining, diverse, safe, and enjoyable night out.”