Belfast's El Divino Nightclub licence renewed despite residents' protests
The entertainments licence for a popular nightclub has been renewed by Belfast City Council despite complaints from nearby residents about noise nuisance and alleged anti-social behaviour by drunken revellers.
Neighbours of El Divino on May's Meadow in the city centre, close to the River Lagan, objected to the noise levels coming from the nightclub, claiming that they were being kept awake until 3am each weekend as clubbers left the premises.
A representative from the St John's Wharf Residents' Association said that on one occasion refuse collectors were collecting glass bottles at 6.30am from the club, and that she and her neighbours, who included professional people such as an on-call doctor, were being disturbed each weekend.
The woman told the Belfast City Council hearing: "We hear people leaving, shouting, singing and drinking.
"We have also emailed and phoned the club, as well as met with them to put forward our concerns."
She claimed that a direct phone line which was set up especially for residents to ring the club's management was called numerous times and answered by a woman, but that little had been resolved.
The residents' spokeswoman said the club has had to be badgered into making changes to its routine to improve life for people living nearby.
"Everything that has been changed has been initiated at our behest," she added.
"I am not saying there's not been some improvements, but we have had to fight for every one of them."
The claims of the residents were disputed by the club's representatives, who said they "went out of their way to be courteous to residents" by staggering the leaving time of the clubbers and closing at 2am, one hour earlier than required.
They said they had also installed new security guards at a cost of £45,000 per year and disputed that any complaints had been received from residents via the direct phone line.
The club, which has been for sale for the past nine months and employs around 50 staff, said it also decided to close down completely on Thursdays, a popular student night, at considerable financial loss.
A licence was granted on the condition that the club continues to close at 2am over weekends, including bank and public holidays.
Representatives of the club were also required to meet quarterly with the residents' association and council officials such as Environmental Health representatives.
A hearing to discuss the licence of Thompson's Garage, another late night club, also in Belfast city centre, was deferred until next month following a brief discussion behind closed doors.