📖 2 February 2024

Being safe is one of the most important considerations for everyone on a night out. 

The return of the 12th Best Bar None Sheffield scheme in 2023/24 is helping venues in the city centre ensure everyone - customers and staff - feels protected. 

In February 2024, the prestigious Best Bar None Sheffield Awards will take place for the first time in four years, celebrating the venues achieving accreditation. 

Here we take a look at work going on behind the scenes to make Sheffield city centre a better, more vibrant and safer place to visit. 

📖 Introducing Sheffield city centre’s night time economy  

Sheffield city centre alone has around 200 venues which can hold a premises licence, ranging from nightclubs to traditional pubs, independent bars and entertainment venues like cinemas or casinos. 

As a sector it employs thousands of people, and naturally welcomes thousands more as visitors through venue doors each week.  

Darren Hendleman-Horne, Sheffield BID Operations Manager and chairman of the Best Bar None Sheffield steering group, said: “Sheffield has a rich and vibrant night time economy based on some significant history, such as the music scene here. It is vital to Sheffield.”  

Darren Hendleman-Horne, Sheffield BID and Chair of the Best Bar None Sheffield steering group

📖 How the Best Bar None Sheffield scheme works 

Best Bar None Sheffield was relaunched in 2023, following a break necessary due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

It is part of a national Home Office supported accreditation scheme which recognises responsible, thorough licensing practices. Sheffield’s scheme won the title of 'best overall scheme' in England and Wales in 2020. 

Licensed premises located within the city centre ring road were invited to apply for the 2023-2024 scheme and after an education session, prepared for an in-depth assessment.  

Sheffield BID led on the scheme supported by Sheffield City Council and in partnership with South Yorkshire Police.   

📖 What Best Bar None venues must demonstrate

Best Bar None accredited venues have proved that public safety and customer care are their top priorities. 

Volunteer assessors undertake a detailed assessment which can last up to three hours. Assessment criteria can include: having the right policies and procedures in place to reduce alcohol related crime and disorder, maintaining positive relationships with the police and local authorities or providing training on the Ask for Angela safety campaign. 

There is also an emphasis on how managers look after their staff. Darren, who personally assessed several venues this year, added: “Venues can be assessed against 80-90 different points in total.

“It’s a very extensive process and the whole idea is one of very carrot, not stick. It’s all about encouraging and nurturing the venues to improve.” 

Some venues may be asked to provide extra information or documents after their assessment in order to secure their accreditation.  Once accredited they receive a window graphic to display so customers know they are part of the scheme.   

📖 The benefits of Best Bar None

One is a Tiki cocktail bar tucked away in grand Leopold Square, the other is a bustling beer-led venue in the heart of Sheffield’s theatre complex. But the teams at Bamboo Door and the Head of Steam are both united in their backing for the Best Bar None Sheffield scheme. 

“It’s like having a trophy to say we are safe”, said Scott Nicholson, assistant manager at the Head of Steam. 

📸 The Head of Steam

“I hope it does give customers confidence, because it’s an accreditation to say the council and partners believe this venue is safe.” 

This is the first time The Head of Steam Sheffield, which is ten years old in 2024, has been part of the awards. Scott said the team had benefited from extra support as a result, and felt confident they are working to the best standards possible. Staff in the night time economy must be conversant with a wide range of policies, from conflict management to hazards.  

He added: “It’s helping us to become a better venue at the same time, it reinforces all the things we are doing. “It’s about taking care of our staff as well. If we don’t look after our team, we can’t look after our customers and if we can’t do that, we don’t have a business.”  

Bamboo Door is also ten years old in 2024 and joining the scheme for the first time.  

📸 Bamboo Door

General manager Kayleigh Waine said: “I’m part of the Sheffield Licence Watch Committee, so I wanted to promote best practice at our venue.” 

As an independent venue, taking part in Best Bar None can mean a challenging amount of paperwork to complete. But Kayleigh added: “It was reassuring to know, when going through the requirements, that we were already doing a lot of it.  

“Taking part in Best Bar None showcases you are doing something right. It gives people a sense of security that everything is clean, that if something happens we know how to deal with it and that all the staff have the same level of training.”  

📖 The Best Bar None awards 

The crème de la crème of Best Bar None Sheffield will be honoured with the glittering awards ceremony at Sheffield City Hall, on 27 February 2024. 

Categories for the awards include best pub, bar or late bar, entertainment venue, nightclub, independent and best chain, as well as an overall winner which demonstrated exceptional commitment. 

Winners will be decided by a panel which judges venues blind to select a worthy winner and runner up. A public vote also took place for the People’s Choice categories.  

Previous winners of the awards have included West Street Live, which claimed the overall title in 2020 and the Frog and Parrot pub on Division Street which won best pub the same year.  

📸 West Street Live

Darren said this year’s awards was shaping up to be an exciting event for the night time economy sector in Sheffield, especially after a few years off.  He added: “It’s a celebration of these venues and their staff who have worked so hard to become part of Best Bar None. 

“But it’s also a place to say thank you to those who work in the night time economy for what they do for us, opening their doors in all weathers and making a night out in Sheffield positive and safe.”   

📖 Get involved in Best Bar None Sheffield   

Sheffield city centre venues which would like more information on the next Best Bar None Sheffield scheme for 2024/25 should email enquiries@sheffieldbid.com. 

📖 Accredited venues in Sheffield 

The full list of accredited venues for 2024 is as follows: 

  • Bamboo Door 
  • Banker’s Draft 
  • The Beehive 
  • Benjamin Huntsman 
  • The Bessemer 
  • Brewdog 
  • The Cavendish 
  • Common Room 
  • Corporation 
  • Forum Kitchen & Bar 
  • Frog & Parrot 
  • The Furnace  
  • Genting Casino 
  • The Great Escape Game  
  • The Globe  
  • Guyshi 
  • The Head of Steam  
  • The Light Cinema Sheffield  
  • Maida Vale 
  • Popworld  
  • Tank  
  • Tiger Works 
  • The Showroom Cinema & Cafe Bar
  • Walkabout 
  • West Street Live 
  • Sheffield Waterworks