Resort club’s fate still in the balance

The entrance to the Flamingo Club. Inset below, Basil Newby
The entrance to the Flamingo Club. Inset below, Basil Newby
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A popular Blackpool nightclub has been left facing an uncertain future after a hearing to review its licence.

Flamingo, owned by resort entrepreneur Basil Newby, was described as the “venue of last resort” at the hearing held yesterday.

Profile on Basil Newby

Profile on Basil Newby

The club, which can currently sell alcohol until 5am at the weekend, was subjected to the town hall probe after concerns raised by police.

Despite the hearing lasting all day councillors have yet to decide what sanction, if any, it will face.

A panel of councillors was told that over the past year attacks inside the club had left customers with broken limbs and injured faces.

One of the latest incidents involved a 20-year-old woman who had three teeth knocked out after she was allegedly assaulted on the dance floor.

Police also raised concerns drugs were being used in the club and people were being served alcohol despite being so drunk they could hardly walk.

But Mr Newby said the frequency of incidents was no worse than in any other similar late night venue. He claimed the police had targeted him because he had the latest opening hours in the town.

Solicitor Richard Williams, representing Lancashire Police, said: “The Flamingo is the venue of last resort and people migrate there towards the end of the night.

“In essence the review application relates to a number of matters, the most important being the serious assaults taking place both inside and outside the premises. The sort of assaults are incidents of people having teeth knocked out and jaws being broken.”

Mr Williams added that undercover police officers had witnessed club goers slumped drunk on the floor and “snorting white powder”.

The panel heard incidents going back 12 months included a man who suffered a broken jaw in October 2012, a woman who had a Champagne bottle smashed over her head in January, and a man who suffered two fractures to his arm after an attack in August.

The club was also accused of not reporting some incidents to police in order to avoid repercussions.

Mr Williams highlighted an incident on November 8 when a 20-year-old woman was dancing on the stage at about 4am when she was allegedly assaulted by another customer.

He said: “She was hit with such force the roots of her teeth were knocked out.

“When the incident happened the club did not phone the police so there was no opportunity to investigate and no-one called an ambulance.”

But Mr Newby said the woman had fallen which was why the incident was not reported to the police, and it had been deemed quicker to send the casualty to hospital by taxi than to call an ambulance.

He denied incidents which required police involvement had been covered up.

Some hoteliers nearby had complained about disturbance from the club, which is part of the Funny Girls organisation.

But Mr Newby said incidents had to be viewed in context when considering the club attracted around 100,000 people a year through its doors.

Mr Newby’s solicitor Tim Shield said: “We feel the premises has been put under the microscope unfairly and the number of incidents attributed to us is unfair.”

He added: “What we want is to work with the police and other responsible authorities to address issues that have been raised.”

Mr Newby said action had already been taken to upgrade CCTV and lighting. Police had also raised concerns about the number of door staff but Mr Shield said the club felt the level of supervision was adequate.

If the committee feels it is necessary it could choose to remove the club’s licence or restrict opening hours.

Mr Shield said to do that could have a “significant effect on this premises and may make them unviable which will have an impact on the rest of the organisation.”

The council panel is expected to decide on Monday if the club will face any sanctions.

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