All Merchant Hotel venues given entertainments licence until 3am

Beannchor's hospitality portfolio includes The Merchant Hotel in Belfast.
Michael Kenwood

Belfast’s Merchant Hotel has been granted an extension to its licence to provide entertainment at all its indoor venues until 3am.

Elected members at Belfast City Council’s Licensing Committee have approved the variation of a seven day annual indoor entertainments licence for the Skipper Street hotel, which hosts a variety of bars and nightclubs. It will not apply to the outdoor beer garden.

The new licensing hours will apply to the Merchant Hotel, the Cloth Ear, Ollies Nightclub, Ollies Garden Room and Bert’s. It will also apply to Conference Rooms 1,2 and 3, the Fourth Floor Lounge, and the four USC bars.

The days and hours during which entertainment was provided under the terms of the previous licence were Monday to Saturday, 11.30am to 1.00am the following morning, and Sunday 12.30pm to 12.00midnight, with only Ollie’s and the USC First Floor Rear Bar operating until 3am. That will now change so all venues can run Monday to Sunday, from 11.30am to 3.00am the following morning.

The council report states: “The applicant has stated that the extension of hours to 3.00am is to fulfil the customers demand for a late night music venue and will be used in conjunction with the Article 44a extension to Liquor Licensing hours.”

This premises also has an outdoor entertainments licence for a beer garden with a capacity of 60 people. It will continue to have the outdoor licence from Monday to Saturday, 11.30am to 1.00am the following morning, and from Sunday 12.30pm to 12.00midnight.

Public notice of the application was placed and no written representation was lodged to the council as a result of the advertisement. The police and fire and rescue service were consulted in relation to the application and confirmed they had no objection.

New legislation introduced last October allowed pubs and hotels everywhere in Northern Ireland to apply to serve drinks until 2am up to 104 nights per year, and to extend drinking-up time from 30 minutes to an hour, with the net effect that premises with the correct entertainment licences would not close until at least 3am. The changes also included all additional restrictions on opening hours over Easter weekend being removed and opening hours on Sunday evenings falling in line with other evenings.

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