That's despite concerns of 'serious crime and disorder' there.
A town’s nightclub has been allowed to retain its licence despite police raising fears over “serious crime and disorder”.
The Crib Bar in Church Street, Ripley, was at the centre of yesterday’s (Monday, November 18) licensing hearing, held by Amber Valley Borough Council.
Sarah Clover, the barrister representing The Crib Bar, summarised the hearing as a “comedy of errors”.
Almost the entire hearing, taking in all evidence from the police, including a control room record compilation relating to the crib, along with testimony from councillors and the club itself, was due to be held behind closed doors.
The council said this was due to the public interest in keeping the hearing private was greater than the public interest in it being heard in the open.
A police spokesperson said that a criminal investigation into the venue was ongoing and that this could be prejudiced by evidence being heard in public.
However, following a Local Democracy Reporting Service article showcasing this decision, Sarah Clover, the barrister representing The Crib Bar, said at today’s hearing that, due to the public interest in the case, including from the press, she was happy for all evidence apart from CCTV footage to be shown in public.
The police and committee agreed to this and the hearing continued
Joseph Millington, representing the council, said that 39 members of the public had made representations to the authority in response to the review notice for the nightclub.
The Crib Bar is open from 9am until 5am every day of the week with a licence to sell alcohol from 9am until 4am every day of the week.
Miss Clover said that the police’s “trigger” for the review related to an incident involving a customer of The Crib Bar on Sunday, October 27 – which was categorised as “serious crime or serious disorder”.
She said that if police were to seek a complete “revocation” of the venue’s licence, there would be “a full fight on our hands”.
Noel Philo, representing Derbyshire police, confirmed that the force did intend to seek “revocation”.
The committee was then told that a pre-hearing meeting was held on Friday, November 15 – which has only now been listed on the council’s website.
All three council committee members said that they were completely unaware that this had taken place.
Miss Clover said that the meeting had been a mini-hearing, running through all of the evidence for the case.
She said that the council’s licensing panel, made up of three different councillors than those on the panel today, had agreed to move temporary
measures for the venue to reopen over the weekend and not to revoke its licence.
Miss Clover said that the police turned up at The Crib Bar on Friday and told the owner, Robert Askew, that he must close the premises due to operating without a licence.
She said that police stayed at the venue for an hour and a half and that the situation was “regrettable and wrong”.
Miss Clover said that today’s hearing should come to the same conclusion as Friday’s mystery meeting.
Another impromptu meeting to discuss The Crib Bar had also been called for early on Tuesday morning last week, but this had been cancelled at the last minute.
The police were asked if they were still seeking to revoke the venue’s licence – which required a 10-minute adjournment.
Once back in the Ripley Town Hall council chamber, both the police and bar teams agreed to have a further 45-minute break to decide whether they could reach an agreement on conditions to fix to the venue’s licence, to restrict it further, instead of seeking to close it.
Councillor Trevor Ainsworth told both teams that if it was becoming clear after 20 minutes that they were not going to agree they should “knock it on the head” so the hearing could get underway.
Mr Philo said that if they can’t reach an agreement on conditions then they will seek revocation of the bar’s licence.
Miss Clover said that this would be the police “throwing its toys out of the pram”.
After 45 minutes the hearing was back underway and the two parties said that they had agreed on conditions.
There was an extensive and at times tetchy debate over the proposed conditions with Miss Clover saying that there was “clearly disgruntlement” between the members of the police’s team.
She insinuated that the police’s team did not agree not to pursue revoking the bar’s licence.
The agreed conditions were almost entirely measures that the bar had already imposed on itself, but was not legally mandated to do through its licence.
However, it now must continue with these measures.
This includes that there must be at least one security guard on the venue’s front entrance between 10.30pm and the end of the venue’s trading hours on Fridays and Saturdays.
On all other occasions there must be a written risk assessment on how many bouncers should be on duty.
Security guards must also wear body cameras at all times, which they can activate during serious incidents – they will not operate at all times.
Footage from these cameras must remain available for 31 days in case the police need to access it. All recordings from significant incidents must remain on record for a year.
Meanwhile, CCTV cameras must operate at all times with footage to be readily available for up to 21 days – if needed by the police. There must be two members of staff who are able to access this footage.
A member of staff must carry out an entire search of all public areas of the venue every hour and at closing time. Records must be kept of all the times this is carried out.
The police, due to agreeing conditions with the bar, chose not to present their hefty raft of evidence against the bar.
Miss Clover said that this was because the police knew that they did not have enough evidence to persuade the council to revoke the bar’s licence.
She did, however, say that the police’s evidence included “an incident down the road and two allegations about ladies in the toilets”.
Miss Clover said: “The incident on the 27th triggered the review, everything else (the police presented as evidence) was an also-ran that occurred months previous.”
She said: “We risk being left in no man’s land if the committee disagrees with the position agreed between the two parties.
“Discontent within the police’s team is not the committee’s problem – and the police have purposely only submitted evidence that could persuade the committee to come to a different conclusion (and revoke the licence).”
Mr Millington said that it would be “unsafe” for the council to make a decision made on the evidence that the police has since chosen not to present – meaning that it was not “prosecuted” during the hearing.
Mr Philo said: “If the committee is not satisfied with the conditions it must say it has to see the evidence but I am not proposing to put that before the committee.”
The committee adjourned for another 30 minutes to make its decision and when it returned, it chose to adopt the recommended conditions to attach to The Crib Bar’s licence and allow the venue to remain open.