Nightclub boss tells Fenland Council: ‘You drove me out of business now I want �100,000’

YOU drove me out of business, you did so wrongly and now I want �100,000 compensation, nightclub boss Viv Salisbury has told Fenland District Council.

The council is adamant that talks are on going with Mr Salisbury and that nothing has yet been resolved.

A council spokesman said: “The problem for us is that we are currently still in correspondence with Mr Salisbury through the normal council complaints procedures, and while those are continuing it wouldn’t be appropriate to make any comment.”

Mr Salisbury is preparing a legal challenge alleging officers at the council acted “in haste, vindictively and were despicable to remove my licence illegally” following closure of VK’s night spot in Chatteris.

The row centres on the premises at 8 Market Hill which Mr Salisbury leased from January 2010 from owner Abdul Hai who was struggling to keep the premises going as an Indian restaurant.

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Mr Salisbury took over the building, opened it as VK’s, but says he received “nothing but hassle from the council from that day to the day they closed it.”

He said the club was busy from day one and although he ran into issues over a roof terrace he created for smokers, the club was well run and properly stewarded.

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Mr Salisbury says he was “dumb founded” when the council stepped in and announced that they had accepted the surrender of a premises and alcohol licence from Mr Hai which led to its closure on August 11, 2011. (Documents show the council had requested a meeting with Mr Hai with a view to surrendering the licence).

The council insists that �190 paid by Mr Salisbury for a premises licence at VK’s was only in fact the cost “to vary the conditions of a licence which in this case was to change the hours for selling alcohol.” The technical reasons as to why the fee was charged form the basis of the legal challenge with Mr Salisbury insisting he was the legitimate licensee – hence the �190 fee- but the council equally insistent it belonged to Mr Hai.

In one letter the council actually stated the �190 was paid by a cheque on behalf of Mr Hai’s company- and in a further letter suggested it had been paid by Mr Hai using a credit card! In fact Mr Salisbury has shown evidence of the money coming from his own bank account via his solicitors.

The council says, generally, that to “vary the conditions of a license” depends on the particular case and on whether the person wants to increase or decrease the hours. If it’s to decrease, it’s �89. If it’s to increase, it varies according to the non-domestic rateable value of the premises - it ranges from �100 to �635. In most cases it is �190.

A series of lengthy letters through the council’s complaints department has failed to satisfy Mr Salisbury.

“The council has deprived me and my staff of our livelihoods and driven me to the edge of bankruptcy by being unable to pay off debts,” he said.

Meanwhile Fenland Council’s complaints team, headed by Dan Horn, head of housing and community support, also alleges there was “incidents” outside VK’s which the council weren’t happy about.

Mr Horn said: “We have CCTV evidence relating to more than one incident outside the premises.

“Some are with the police as they formed part of criminal investigations. Mr Hai was made aware of the incidents as the premises licence holder and designated premises supervisor but neither he nor his solicitors present saw or asked to see the DVD evidence.”

Mr Horn says Mr Hai surrendered the licence rather than contest the council’s findings- but Mr Salisbury insists it was not the freeholder’s licence to surrender.

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