Manchester City Council

Agenda item

Agenda item

Summary Review of Premises Licence - Bliss Club, Albion Wharf, 19 Albion Street, Manchester, M1 5LN

The report of the Head of Planning, Building Control & Licensing is enclosed.

Minutes:

Following an Interim Steps hearing which took place on 8 August 2019 at which a decision was made to suspend the licence with immediate effect, the Committee was asked to review the Premises Licence for Bliss club pursuant to Section 53 (c) of the Licensing Act 2003. 

 

In reaching its decision, the Committee considered the Council’s Statement of Licensing Policy, the Licensing Act 2003, the Regulations made thereunder and the Guidance issued by the Secretary of State under Section 182 of that Act as well as the Licensing Objectives with specific reference for those that relate to crime and disorder and public safety.   In doing so, the Committee considered Section 53C of the Licensing Act 2003 which sets out the available steps the Committee may take, should they deem it appropriate for the promotion of the Licensing Objectives.

 

53C Review of premises licence following review notice

(1)       This section applies to a review of a premises licence which a relevant licensing authority has to conduct on an application under section 53A.

(2)       The relevant licensing authority must-

(a)       hold a hearing to consider the application for the review and any relevant representations; [ and]

(b)       take such steps mentioned in subsection (3) (if any) as it considers [appropriate] for the promotion of the licensing objectives [.] [...] [...]

 

(3)       Those steps are-

(a)       the modification of the conditions of the premises licence,

(b)       the exclusion of a licensable activity from the scope of the licence,

(c)       the removal of the designated premises supervisor from the licence,

(d)       the suspension of the licence for a period not exceeding three months, or

(e)       the revocation of the licence.

 

The Committee also took into consideration Section 12.2 of the Section 182 guidance which states:

 

“…. The powers are aimed at tackling serious crime and serious disorder, in particular (but not exclusively) the use of guns and knives. The powers complement the general procedures in the 2003 Act for tackling crime and disorder associated with licensed premises and should be reserved for the most serious matters which cannot be adequately or otherwise redressed unless urgent action is taken.”

 

The Committee carefully considered all of the written evidence that had been submitted to the hearing and all oral and written representations from all parties in respect of a number of issues concerned with the running of the premises and incidents that had arisen over the past couple of years. 

 

The Committee viewed CCTV footage of an incident that had occurred in the early hours of 3August 2019 which involved three victims being stabbed following fights that had taken place inside and outside of the premises.  It was clear from the footage that the incident had commenced inside the club and that persons had acted in an aggressive manner with one person arming himself with a belt and another wielding a crutch and using it to attack others.  Whilst it was noted that the Premises had taken appropriate action by turning off the music and switching the lights on, the Committee was concerned that there appeared to be no urgency to contact GMP when fighting first broke out inside the premises. Had the Premises done so, the Committee felt that this would have assisted in diffusing a hostile situation that was clearly developing.  It observed that the Club had been proactive in emptying the premises but noted that there had been an escalation of violence outside involving the same persons who had been fighting inside the premises. This ultimately resulted in three victims being stabbed and hospitalised with serious injuries. The CCTV footage showed that there was serious disorder outside the premises and the Committee felt that there was a lack of proactive intervention on the part of the Premises doorstaff to curtail the disorder. 

 

The Committee was also informed that GMP had visited the Premises the day after the incident to find that it had been reopened, despite the serious nature of the incident the previous night.  GMP also discovered that the Incident Book had recorded the fighting as a “minor incident downstairs club closed“.  This gave the Committee grave cause for concern as to what would amount to a serious incident taking place. It was also concerned that a Door Staff Signing-In Book had identified a Company who were not employed at the premises.  Furthermore the Committee was concerned that there had been a number of breaches of its licence relating to staff training, safety checks, use of external promoters and the display of notices.  It was felt that this may have contributed to the events that had occurred the previous day. 

 

The Committee was invited to note a number of other incidents at the premises all of which gave the Committee cause for concern that the Premises was incapable of taking sufficient steps to ensure serious disorder did not break out at the premises:

 

-        1 June 2019 - a disturbance occurred outside the premises which resulted in GMP being called to the premises to be advised that there was pushing and shoving taking place on the dance floor.

-        9 February 2019 -  GMP had been called to the Premises in response to issues of males causing a disturbance which threatened to escalate out of control. 

-        There were concerns that the premises had not kept accurate records concerning the completion of the staff signing in book and the display of SIA badges.

-        24 June 2018 - a female had been assaulted with a glass at the premises.

-        29 April 2018 -  a fight broke out involving 10-15 males.

-        29 October 2017 – GMP officers attended the premises following a call that there was a disturbance breaking out between doorstaff and some customers.

 

The Committee took into account representations made by Licensing Out Of Hours (LOOH) team that cast doubt over the Premises ability to uphold the Licensing Objectives.  It noted a systemic failure by the premises over the past 18months – 24 months to comply with the conditions that had been imposed upon the licence.  In the eyes of the Committee, this showed a clear failure to manage the premises effectively despite the offer of advice and guidance from LOOH. The Committee also took into consideration that two multi-agency meetings had taken place (29 March 2019 and 27 June 2019) to address an accumulation of concerns about how the premises was failing to meet its licensing obligations and how it could avoid breaching conditions imposed on its licence.  Despite this, the Committee noted that conditions had been breached on the evening of the 3 August 2019 and in its view this had contributed greatly to the serious outbreak of violence that had occurred at the premises.

 

Decisions

 

1.         To revoke the Premises Licence pursuant to Section 53C Licensing Act 2003.

 

2.         To uphold the Interim Steps such that the Premises Licence is suspended with immediate effect pursuant to Section 53D Licensing Act 2003)

 

 

 

 

Supporting documents: