Clifftop safety fears over DJ event at Marsden Grotto

An all-day music event at a seafront pub close to clifftops has sparked safety fears.

Friday, 25th March 2016, 5:00 am
Marsden Grotto manger David Branley-Speirs ahead of Easter party

The Marsden Grotto, South Shields, is celebrating a relaunch with a party from 2pm today until 4am tomorrow featuring six DJs.

It emerged South Tyneside Council objected to an application for the pub to sell alcohol and have live entertainment outside and the notice has since been withdrawn. All activities must take place inside the pub.

The Marsden Grotto

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A council spokesman says it “still has concerns” over the event.

The pub owner, Sharon Deehan says “every single safety measure that could be taken, has” and the event will have first aiders, a first line paramedic first aider and two sea rescue teams, doorstaff at the lift entrance and the bottom of stairs down the cliff and marshals on patrol in the area.

Fencing has also been put up on the clifftop.

Cliff safety campaigner Jean Costello says she fears for the safety of people attempting to use the stairs at the side of the building after drinking and wandering along clifftops.

The Marsden Grotto

Mr Costello has campaigned for safety measures to be improved at the clifftops since the death of her son Stephen Heslop in 2007.

She said: “I am absolutely horrified. It’s just a disaster waiting to happen. I feel so sick at the thought of large numbers of people, many of whom will have been drinking, wandering around the clifftops.

“I don’t want to be a killjoy, but for me and many others this is an event happening in the wrong location.

“For eight years I called for the cliffs to be made safer and this just feels like it has all been for nothing.”

Her fears have been echoed by Coun Jeff Milburn.

He said: “You’re going to have hundreds of people in one pub where the only escape is via a lift or a very small and spindly stairway up a cliff.

“I think it’s potentially very dangerous to be having drunken people in one small venue like this.”

Mrs Deehan said: “This is no different to what we have done before. We don’t have a temporary event notice so normal licensing conditions will apply and we will have the same amount of people in the building as we have had before. At Halloween we were full to capacity and had no issues.

“Everything for this event is being done by the book. Every single safety measure that can be taken has been taken. We take the safety of our customers very seriously.”

A spokesman for the council said: “The Grotto pub applied for a Temporary Events Notice to sell alcohol and have live entertainment outside the premises for up to 499 people.

The council objected to this on the grounds of public safety due to the pub’s unusual location and access issues. The notice has since been withdrawn. We still have concerns about this event but have done all we can to limit the numbers.

A spokesman for Northumbria Police said they were “aware of the event”.