Safety breaches shut club

The Progress Club on Exchange Street, Blackpool.
The Progress Club on Exchange Street, Blackpool.
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A social club which once hosted former Prime Minister Tony Blair has been stripped of its licence after adopting a ‘Heath Robinson’ approach to maintenance.

The Progress Club on Exchange Street, Blackpool, had its alcohol licence 
revoked by a Blackpool Council licensing panel who heard infringements of fire safety 
requirements were among the worst to be seen in the town.

Council licensing enforcement officer Mark Marshall said: “The fire exit was about to break down in terms of deterioration, rust and rot, It looked like it had not been maintained for a number of years.

“There were various Heath Robinson-type repairs that had been done to the 

He added there was a 
“tinder box of combustible materials” being stored in the cellar, while the fire alarm was inoperable and sewage had overflowed into the rear yard of the premises.

Mr Marshall added: “I have not seen a list so comprehensive about what’s wrong in terms of fire safety in many years, if at all.”

He also said residents had complained of disturbances, although no incidents had been reported to the police.

The club hosted members of the Cabinet including Mr Blair, Tessa Jowell and David Miliband in 2006 when it was chosen to stage a Labour Party initiative called “Let’s Talk” to engage communities in shaping policy.

The club’s owner Christopher Vaughan said he had leased the premises out but had now taken control back himself and was in the process of carrying out the necessary work to meet the requirements of the licence.

He said the cellar had been used to store materials from another business, but had now been cleared out, while electrical work had now been carried out.

Mr Vaughan said: “I should have kept a closer eye on it, but now everything will be put right. We are a small back street club and have spent a lot of money to get it nice inside.

“It breaks even at best and I have made a decision to keep it trading because I like Blackpool and I like the people who go into the club.”

He said a new fire alarm and electrics had been fitted, and in future there would be no food preparation carried out on the premises, and added: “We have never had any trouble in the place.”

Mr Vaughan has 21 days to appeal the decision.