THE owner of a popular Bradford venue has told Councillors of how the business has been turned around after things “went wrong” 18 months ago.
Dave Shipley, owner of Q Gardens, said a change in management at the venue had led to a change in clientele, and incidents of fighting and drug problems.
But at a recent meeting of Bradford Council’s Licensing Committee he said new management brought in last year had worked tirelessly to get the venue, which includes a conferencing centre, restaurant, bar and games rooms, back on track.
The Committee had met to discuss a retrospective application to vary the licence for the business, based at Odsal Top.
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Changes had been made to the building’s interior, such as the creation of a function room area, although the size of the venue remains the same. Mr Shipley told members he had not realised these changes required a variation to the licence.
The meeting, which took place on Thursday, was to decide whether to retrospectively grant the licence changes – which do not include any extension of hours, just layout changes.
Members were told that when the variation was submitted earlier this year, some neighbours had raised concerns, citing anti social behaviour and noise.
Mr Shipley said the venue had been open for 40 years, operating as a family run business for 38 of those years.
But around 18 months ago he brought in people who were not from the family to run the pub.
He told members: “It went wrong in a number of ways. The clientele spectrum changed completely. We had all sorts of problems with drugs and had to ask for help from police.
“I cost me a huge amount of money. The safe was stolen, there were fighting problems.
“It was all down to the business leaving the family. We looked to make the changes as quickly as possible.”
He said Sean Lowe and Christina Hudson, who then took over the running of the venue last Autumn, had “worked very very hard to address the issues we all know occurred. I’ve never seen anyone work as hard to put things right.”
Referring to the retrospective licensing application he said: “I apologise to all, that’s my fault- I didn’t realise it needed a variation.”
Mr Lowe told members that although they “hadn’t got everything right yet” they regularly met with neighbours, and the situation had greatly improved.
He said: “We want to make sure those things don’t happen again. We want to be a family friendly venue were you can come for Sunday dinner with friends and family.”
Mrs Hudson said the venue had “changed massively” in the past year.
The committee asked what problems remained at the venue.
Mr Shipley said the Covid pandemic played its part, with people visiting Q Gardens due to their regular haunts having not yet opened.
He had invested a huge amount to make the business Covid secure, and it opened earlier this Summer.
He told the committee; “A lot of other businesses didn’t do that and some still haven’t opened.”
The venue employs six security staff on weekends to prevent the wrong crowd from attending – the committee were told.
Mr Shipley added: “That is totally wrong for a business like ours, but we had to do it.” He said the venue spent £2,000 a week on security.
Councillor Rosie Watson (Lab, Wyke) had originally raised concerns about the variation.
She told the meeting that while there had been some issues with the venue, the situation had improved significantly since July, when she first raised those concerns.
Members agreed to approve the licence variation, which includes a condition that no live music can be played outside after 7pm.