Deansgate bar Bliss has had its licence revoked after three customers were stabbed outside the venue last month.
Greater Manchester Police had said that keeping it open could put members of the public and staff in ‘grave danger’ and said that if the club had called the police when an earlier incident took place, the triple stabbing could have been avoided.
Bosses at the club – which initially saw its licence temporarily suspended in August ahead of today’s full hearing- had argued they would introduce a slate of new measures to make the venue safer.
But they failed to convince the licensing panel at today’s full review, who found that there had been a ‘systemic failure’ at the club.
Bliss bosses can choose to appeal the decision at the magistrates court, if they want.
Today’s hearing was triggered by an incident on 4.29am on Saturday, August 3, when police received a radio message saying an individual had been stabbed.
Police documents read: “Armed officers quickly located a male with stab wounds who was on Albion Street and was bleeding heavily.
“He was taken to hospital by ambulance to treat his stab wounds.
“A short time later two other males attended at hospital each suffering from stab wounds and when they were spoken to they stated that they had been stabbed during the incident at Bliss Club.
“All three males who were stabbed informed GMP that they had been inside the premises just prior to being attacked.”
“The three victims are known to police and it is feared that some form of retribution will be sought by at least one of them,” police wrote in documents considered by the panel.
“To allow the premises to remain open will potentially place customers and staff in grave danger.”
The three victims are expected to make a full recovery but GMP wrote in statements to the council that it could ‘very easily have resulted in a loss of life’.
Police bosses believe that if the club had called them over an incident in the club earlier that evening, those stabbings could have been avoided.
Managers at the Deansgate bar maintain that the incident inside the venue was just an argument, not a fight that required police attention.
They say they acted appropriately on the night and CCTV footage shows the lights being turned on, the music off and the club closed after the initial incident. But the police has said they should have done more.
CCTV footage shows an individual with crutches in the air while another person is seen with a belt wrapped around his hand, which PC Isherwood described as a ‘makeshift knuckleduster’.
But Bliss’ management said today that there was ‘no punch thrown’.
Bliss’ management have maintained that they could never have predicted what would have happened on the street after the scuffle in the club – which was logged in the incident book as ‘minor’.
But GMP also gave examples of previous issues arising at the club, including an incident last year when an 18 year old woman was ‘glassed’ at the premises.
Bosses at the Albion Street venue had tried to show in today’s hearing that new measures they intended to introduce would make the venue safer.
These would include new security staff from an experienced firm, new CCTV, a new knife arch installed and a new dispersal policy which tells each staff member what their responsibilities are.
Managers had also said they would scrap their R&B nights, saying that issues were more likely to occur during these evenings than the Bollywood or Spanish nights.
Piotr Mitrega, Bliss’ designated premises supervisor, said that the club had attracted a relatively low number of incidents in the venue, three incidents across 240 events during recent years.
If it was allowed to stay open, the club would work with the police and licensing teams to make sure the licensing objectives were met, he said.
“This is our livelihood, I’m not a bad person and we want to do the right thing,” he said.
A clubgoer also spoke in support of Bliss at today’s hearing, saying that the club welcomed people from different backgrounds and was one of the nightspots in Manchester where he could enjoy himself without feeling ‘intimidated’.
The town hall received six comments from members of the public, supporting the club’s reopening and saying they didn’t recognise it as a violent place.
But the revocation of the licence was also supported by the out of hours licensing team who said that they had given the club additional guidance but had found a number of issues there – including they said, ‘unlicensed door staff’ and noise complaints from a nearby hotel.
Out-of-hours officer Niall Johnson said that while the managers at the bar are ‘polite, friendly and co-operative,’ the club required many interventions from the team, and he showed CCTV footage from one evening where queues sprawled out into the road.
He said: “We pass the premises countless times a night and it has resulted in us having to go up to Piotr and say ‘what is going on? It’s crazy.’ I’ve seen more of Piotr this year than most of my own family.”
Action plans that had been put in place to help the club meet its licensing objectives were ‘failing or would fail,’ he added.
Ultimately the licensing committee sided with him and GMP.
They said: “It felt that there had been a systemic failure to comply with those conditions and in the eyes of committee this showed clear failure to manage the premises effectively – despite advice and guidance from licensing team.”
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