Middlesbrough’s Empire theatre has been given a “final chance” and will see its licence restored later next month by the local council subject to conditions.

The licensing committee at Middlesbrough Council said it had seriously considered revoking the venue’s licence after a “complete failure of management and door supervision” and a “pattern” of serious behaviour associated with the premises.

It had agreed to temporarily suspend the Empire’s licence last month prior to the Easter Bank Holiday weekend after a request from Cleveland Police.

This followed an incident in which a member of the public was filmed being hauled onto a pavement outside the Corporation Road nightspot and dropped head first.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

A man was arrested by police over the incident, footage of which was shared on social media, and bailed pending further inquiries.

A hearing at the town hall heard that a new, approved, security company had been engaged and the previous management team removed and replaced.

Councillor Stephen Hill, chairman of the committee, said: “The majority of conditions have been agreed and due to the common ground between the parties, it has been decided to give the premises’ licence holder a final chance to continue to operate.”

He added: “Positive changes have been made…which will ensure the new operation will be safer and uphold objectives.”

The committee said there must continue at least to be one door supervisor to a hundred customers.

Cllr Hill said because of “ongoing serious issues and incidents at the premises” even a perceived low-risk event would still require that ratio.

He said: “If a risk assessment identifies there should be more than one door supervisor to a hundred guests on a night then the security company should engage more door supervisors in accordance with that.”

The committee also insisted that scanners should be used on every person entering the venue and rejected representations over this which said it would be “counterproductive” and cause tension, delays and disruption.

Cllr Hill said it was considered to be “appropriate and necessary” to have such a condition.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Councillor Stephen Hill, chairman of Middlesbrough Council\'s licensing committee

He said: “Customers will only need to be scanned once which can be clarified in promotional material, but everyone is required to be scanned with ID.”

The committee said underage customers had been admitted into the Empire, some of whom were involved in violent incidents and it had gained a poor reputation as a result.

Cllr Hill said: “It is appropriate therefore that management know everyone who is in the premises and what ages they are, rather than just a cohort of people who an individual considers may look under 25.

“This will also assist the police if an incident were to occur.”

He also referenced the requirement for those on the door to wear body-worn cameras with the committee being reassured over the monitoring of these to ensure they were activated and not misused.

Cllr Hill said: “The committee again reiterates that revocation was an option seriously considered, but relies on common ground reached between the parties, stringent conditions and assurances by the premises licence holder, so it has been agreed to provide the licence holder with a last chance to operate safely.”

In 2022 police released a ten-page document ahead of a previous licensing hearing detailing 34 alleged incidents, including a stabbing, women being groped, violence by door staff, a bouncer using a homophobic slur, clubgoers being glassed and a man knocked unconscious.

The latest hearing was told that the venue was intending to re-open on May 11, however a further limited period suspension of 21 days was imposed until May 16.

Cllr Hill said: “The reasons are to put the updated conditions in place, to sort out the management structure and recruit appropriate staff, to risk assess the planned opening and to make sure the premises licence holder is clear there has to be a cultural overhaul and to ensure in light of problems similar issues do not occur and to deter any further complacency.”

He also said the continued interim suspension could be appealed to a magistrates court.

Earlier this month Empire managing director Ashley Wem announced he would be “moving onto pastures new” after three decades with the theatre.

The Empire wished Mr Wem “all the best” and thanked him for 30 years of “hard work, dedication and bringing world-renowned clubbing and live music to our town”.

It also said a new firm providing security would take “essential and necessary steps to ensure that best practices are adhered to”.

It previously said it understood the concerns being expressed, but was disappointed with the licence suspension and remained “committed to maintaining a safe night time space” for revellers in the town.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service reached out to a press representative employed by the Empire to see whether there was any further comment being made, only to be told he had lost his job that morning and could not help.

The Empire, which describes itself as Middlesbrough’s finest nightclub and concert venue, was first opened in 1897 and has staged shows by the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy along with latter day stars such as DJ Roger Sanchez, rock band The Arctic Monkeys and Saltburn-raised singer James Arthur.