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Watford Borough Council to decide on fate of Area Nightclub following Hertfordshire Constabulary report
Police in Watford have moved to have Area nightclub stripped of its licence after branding it "poorly run" and responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime in the town centre.
Officers have submitted a scathing report to Watford Council cataloguing violence and other problems they say the management of the town’s second largest club have failed to address.
Residents living near the club in The Parade have also complained that noise coming from its smoking area is making life "impossible to bear".
Hertfordshire Constabulary has called on politicians to revoke Area’s licence or tighten up its conditions.
The club’s fate will be decided by Watford Council’s licensing sub committee on Friday.
In a report to the committee, Police Sergeant Marie White said attention was drawn to the club in August last year when a large fight broke out outside it.
She said: "Two opposing groups began fighting, which resulted in large scale outbreaks of fighting throughout the town centre. Bottles were thrown at police officers and large crowds gathered to watch.
"Police resources from across the county were required to quell disorder."
The report to the council said a disproportionate amount of crime in the town centre was linked to Area compared to other venues.
Police Sergeant White said Hertfordshire Constabulary was also seeking the revocation of Area’s licence on public safety grounds.
She said there were allegations exits had been chained shut at the 1,500 capacity club.
Other public safety concerns raised by police were the serious injuries clubbers were receiving in fights in the club where glasses were being used as a weapon.
Police Sergeant White said in one such case a male had suffered permanent scarring to his face, a broken nose and had been lucky not to lose an eye.
Officers said the club's licence stated it should use plastic glasses throughout the venue.
Police had also found CCTV coverage of Area was inconsistent, which hindered their investigations.
In the report Hertfordshire Constabulary expressed concerns about Area's parent company Gatecrasher and its other venues.
It referred to an investigation in Leeds in which a former doorman at the Gatecrasher 7, Gordon Lamb, had turned whistleblower on the company.
He alleged management had tried to "cover-up" a stabbing at the club in January last year and said there were other incidents where public safety was compromised at the club.
The report stated: "Mr Lamb makes the point that managers of venues appear to be bullied by the senior management team, the same senior management team that are responsible for Area Night Club."
At the end of the report, Police Sergeant White added: "In conclusion, the constabulary is of the opinion that the venue is very poorly run and that, despite repeated attempts to address the issues raised, hardly any attempt has been made to rectify the situation."
As well as the damning report from the police, residents living near the club have also written to the council complaining about noise coming from Area.
Yuliya Mosolova, a resident of Wilmington Close,said the constant noise of clubbers shouting, screaming and fighting with each other in Area’s external smoking area was "impossible to bear".
She added: "It is hard for me to understand how clubs like this get a licence to cause nuisance to residents and crime in the community."
However, another resident of Wilmington Close, Steve Sumner, wrote to the council saying the problems of noise and disturbance were due to "lazy policing" around the club.
He said: "The clubs and pubs are not the problem, I have been to most and have been impressed by the handling of incidents by the door and security staff. The vast majority of customers are well behaved and simply enjoying themselves, again I believe this is still legal.
"The problem is lazy policing. If someone is causing a disturbance it is the job of the police service to act accordingly."