A CRICKET club which asked to extend its hours for selling alcohol actually ended up reducing them after hearing neighbours' fears it might turn into a pub or nightclub plaguing their streets with drunks.

Residents said they had already suffered problems with noise, underage drinking, substance abuse and anti-social behaviour including people urinating in the street and vomiting in bushes following cricket club events.

The club scaled down its requests and even pulled back its existing hours after hearing the concerns.

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Consett and District Cricket Club's application to the Durham County Council licensing committee to add indoor sporting events, dancing, a new bar and longer opening hours and times for music and alcohol sales attracted 12 objections.

Susan Lidster said she and the community of largely old, disabled and vulnerable residents had "grave concerns".

She described unresolved problems over the last few years with extreme noise nuisance and anti-social behaviour from marquee and other events.

"We've been good neighbours for the cricket club for over 20 years," she said. "All we’ve ever wanted to do is live peacefully alongside the cricket club.

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"We've put up with a lot of severe distress and disturbance since events at the cricket club have been on."

She said at one point they were "bombarded with hideous noise" at "intolerable" levels and "we couldn't speak to each other, let alone watch the television".

She described another occasion as "completely wild", with youths roaming the street urinating and being sick in bushes.

She added: “If this variation is granted, we can only see them maximising it to the full use and the club becoming more like a pub and nightclub venue."

Her husband Ted, the county council's building control manager, said the cricket club was an "excellent facility" for the community, but the proposed changes would make "living in this lovely quiet area a nightmare".

Robin Scudder said cricketers were respectful but outdoor music events caused so much noise "it's near impossible to hear anything at home", with their neighbourhood used "as a public toilet".

Durham Police objected on the grounds of crime and disorder, public nuisance and protection of children.

Sergeant Caroline Dickenson said the cricket club proposed to almost double their alcohol sale hours from 50 to 94 hours per week.

The council's environmental health department also objected on the grounds of preventing public nuisance.

Cricket club chairman and licence holder Ian Cox said the main reason for the application was to add an accessible downstairs serving point, sometimes as a "tuck shop", to the licence.

He said: "Through errors of judgment on my part, it would seem, it's escalated further than that.

"The primary function of the club is as a cricket club. It's not to be a town centre bar."

He said he did not know how to specify things in the application and was advised to "ask for the maximum".

He said he only wanted the indoor sports licence for a darts team, he would not hold music-led under-18 events and the request to lift the door staff condition was a "massive error".

He added: "On reflection, I don't need outdoor loud music all day every day, far from it. I don't want it."

After negotiations, he came back with a new proposal.

It removed live and recorded music after 11pm from the licence, and abandoned the dance performance and door staff requests.

The club will be allowed to use a marquee for up to four outdoor events between May and September each year, not on consecutive nights, with drinks and music up to 10.30pm.

Otherwise sales of alcohol will be from 12.30pm to 10pm downstairs, 11am to 11pm upstairs – pulled back from 12.30am closing on Fridays and Saturdays. There will be no under-18 events.

Licensing officer Helen Johnson said: "He's reduced significantly the hours that's already in place for sale of alcohol for the existing bar."

Committee chair Cllr Robert Potts said they would approve the amended licence.


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