Sutton music venue has £10,000 Covid fine revoked
A controversial £10,000 fine dished out to a live music venue in Sutton for allegedly breaking Covid rules has been withdrawn by the police.
The decision is a massive fillip for The Diamond on Stoney Street as it prepares to reopen tonight (Friday) after the latest lockdown.
June Melvin, who runs the popular venue with husband Gary, was reluctant to comment, but she did say: “Thank goodness!
"We don’t want any problems, and we just want to put it behind us.”
Police swooped on The Diamond one Wednesday night in November last year when they found about 100 customers enjoying a live music show, featuring a Queen tribute act.
At the time, Sutton was under tier-three restrictions, which meant that hospitality venues should only open if serving substantial meals.
Although the Melvins were not present because, ironically, they were self-isolating, the venue insisted it was doing nothing illegal, based on advice it had taken.
However, police officers felt otherwise, and issued the hefty fixed penalty notice.
At the time, Assistant Chief Constable Kate Meynell said: “We cannot turn a blind eye when the rules are breached in this way.
"What we found at The Diamond was a series of very significant failures that really left us with no other option but to take this action.”
The fine stunned regulars at the venue who launched a GoFundMe fundraising appeal that raised £4,020.
It was led by regular Sue Hall, who said: “I was there on the night, and it felt safe.
"We were sat down at tables away from each other, and were were all wearing face masks.
"The Diamond had worked closely with the the council to open safely, and they followed all the guidelines.
"I couldn’t bear to think that they had got a fine on top of what had been a rubbish year.”
Since that night, The Diamond, which has a capacity of 300, has been closed. June admitted it had been a real struggle to keep the business alive, although they had been helped by the fact that they own the building and so didn’t have to pay extortionate rent.
The Diamond has a long-standing reputation as a vibrant venue, renowned for hosting tribute bands.
The reprieve over the fine, plus Sue’s support, could not have been better timed ahead of its reopening tonight.
In a Facebook post, June said: “We would like to thank the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which has decided to take no further action.
"Thankyou so much too to Sue Hall and for all the unwavering support from customers, staff and artistes we have received throughout these very stressful last six months.
"We will put the fund towards an air conditioning system, which will provide much-needed ventilation at The Diamond. We have never been able to afford this before.
"If anyone would like to have their money returned, please contact us.”
For the police, Assistant Chief Constable Steve Cooper issued this brief statement: “We issued the fixed penalty notice in good faith.
"The fine was rescinded following a CPS decision, which was based on a recent case in the West Midlands.”
It is not clear which case this referred to, but the West Midlands is an area of the country where £10,000 fines have been dropped or reduced after legal challenges.