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Area nightclub licence hearing: Live
This live event has finished
- Watford Borough Council to decide on the fate of Area nightclub after police apply to have its licence revoked.
That's the proceedings over. Will have more on this story later.
Area's barrister, Mr Gouriet, asks if club can start its 2 month closure today? Request rejected as police say they want it the club closed over Christmas, essentially to act as a punishment. Area will close in 21 days.
Councillor Jan Brown says committee welcomes the rebranding and hopes the new club will help make the town centre a "family friendly" place.
Councillor Jan Brown says the council is willing accept the deal between the club and the police. So Area will close and reopen as a new club.
Councillors have just come back in to give their decision.
Still waiting for the councillors to come back. Taking a bit if time deliberating. They have the power to add extra conditions to Area's licence if they see fit.
Rebranding Area nightclub definitely a good thing. Safety in the town has to come first.— @McDonama 12 October 2012
The three councillors have now retired to deliberate on the club's fate. Should hear their decision soon.
Simon Raine, the managing director of Area's parent club Gatecrasher, says he was just not made aware of problems and the suspended Area manager had been a good worker until last six months.
She says US president Harry Truman had a sign in his office which said 'the buck stops here'. Wants to know why the same does not seem to apply to Area's senior management.
Councillor Jan Brown now questioning Area management.
Club representatives say issues were the fault of old manager of Area who has now been suspended and a new one is appointed. They say senior management was not made aware of issues at Area.
Councillor Meerabux expresses concerns about fact doors to the club were found chained shut. Says club has 1,500 capacity and if something went wrong it would be 'on the front page' and would make for nasty reading.
Councillors are now questioning representatives of Area. Independent Malcolm Meerabux is first up.
Mr Gouriet says the new club will be branded to make it less attractive to 18 to 25 year olds who he says are the source of a lot of the trouble.
Mr Gouriet confirms Area will close for a bit and open as a new club. The new name is not decided yet.
Watching the the live Area nightclub hearing newsfeed... They aren't closing it!— @AmealRichards 12 October 2012
Area's barrister, Gerald Gouriet Q.C., says the club accepts the police's conditions. So it looks like the club will not be closing down.
However he says that he does not think all the noise and issues are coming from Area. Mr Sumner says his biggest issue with the town centre is that The Gade car park and surrounding area is not "adequately policed".
One resident of Wilmington Close, Steve Sumner, says that residents living in town centre expect to suffer a level of night time noise.
Councillors are now hearing from residents living near the club who say they hear drunken screaming and noise coming from the club's smoking areainto early hours of night.
However Mr Grant adds police will be watching Area "like a hawk" and if it does not improve they will not hesitate to move to have it shut down again.
Mr Grant is now listing possible changes to the way Area is run, which would make it staying open acceptable to the police. Among them is to give up its right to open longer than its normal hours.
Mr Grant says police and club have thrashed a compromise where club will agree to strict changes. Looks like it may close for a few weeks and open under a new brand.
However it looks like the police are no longer looking to have the club's licence revoked. Mr Grant says there has been a "radical" change in the way Area has been run recently.
Mr Grant says Area came to the police's attention after a number of issues, including people being violently assaulted with bottles there and underage drinkers being found "paralytic" at the club.
He says police have a simple objective: to make Watford town centre a safer place and they will not tolerate clubs that get in the way of that.
Barrister, Gary Grant, speaking for the police, has opened the hearing. He is listing problems police have had at Area.
Proceedings are starting. Councillor Jan Brown has been elected as chair of the meeting.
The decision over the club's fate will be made by three Watford Borough Councillors sitting on its licensing sub committee this morning. These are Liberal Democrats Jan Brown and Keith Crout, plus independent Malcolm Meerabux.
Police have said if the council does not revoke the club's licence today they want stricter conditions placed on its licence.
You can also read our article on the background to today's hearing here.
Hertfordshire Constabulary has produced a long report, which you can read here, cataloging problems at the club over the last year.
Today's hearing has come about after police have applied for "the complete revocation of the premises licence" of the club on The Parade.
Morning, welcome to the Watford Observer's live coverage of the licence hearing that will determine the future of Area nightclub.
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