'˜Police have it in for my club' - Blackpool nightclub blamed for string of booze-fuelled violence

The boss of a Blackpool nightclub today claimed police are '˜singling out' his business on the eve of a licence review that could see its opening hours cut.

Monday, 9th July 2018, 7:00 am
Updated Monday, 16th July 2018, 4:53 pm
Basil Newby

Basil Newby finds himself in the crosshairs of resort officers amid allegations his Flamingo club, on Queen Street, repeatedly ignored its licence and kept serving alcohol past 4am.

Blackpool Police called for the review of the licence amid concerns bosses’ action were contributing to the problem of booze-fuelled violence in the town centre.

A report to Blackpool Council’s licensing panel, which will decide on the club’s fate tomorrow, lists dozens of incidents – mostly assaults –in and around the venue in recent months.

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But Mr Newby, the owner of Funny Girls, which runs Flamingo, said: “A lot of the incidents the police are referring to had nothing to do with us.

“If you count the number of police cars at the other end of Queen Street, our area is so quiet in comparison.

“We have one of the latest licences in Blackpool and I feel the police are using us as a scapegoat so they can get our licence pushed back to an earlier time, just because their own resources are thinner later on.

“The fact is that I opened the Flamingo in 1978 and in 40 years of trading I have been subject to review just two times, that surely says a lot. It feels that we are being singled out.”

The report to councillors lists 30 incidents police said were ‘directly linked to Flamingo’ over an eight-month period. These took place within permitted trading hours.

It also includes others in and around the club on nights the club had continued to trade beyond its permitted hours.

One ‘particularly nasty’ brawl detailed in the report saw a man hit over the head with a concrete slab, cutting him ‘down to the bone’, during a large fight outside the club. The incident, on April 29, took place just before 6am, although on that occasion Flamingo had been granted a temporary event notice (TEN) allowing it to stay open until 6am.

The report adds only a handful of TENs have been issued to the club in 2018, mostly in January, but owner Basil Newby told police he had been ‘let down’ by a manager who had ‘failed to submit temporary event notices’.

At the meeting, should they decide to, councillors will have the power to impose restrictions on the club’s licence, suspended it or revoke it entirely.

Police said in the statement to the panel: “Not only is Flamingo operating outside its licensing hours, which is a criminal offence… and caused issues with crime  and disorder, but it also poses a massive risk to public safety in terms of fire safety.

“Should there be an emergency inside the premises, for example a fire, when emergency services believed it to be closed  their response will be different than if they were aware that over 150 people were inside.”

In supporting documents, the police refer to CCTV evidence, social media posts linked to the clubs and personal testimony from officers who visited the premises and reported activities which amounted to licence breaches.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s hearing, Mr Newby told The Gazette that on those occasion when there had been a breach, he had been given an undertaking by his club manager that the TEN applications had been sent in and put in place.

He said: “I would not have been stupid enough to publicly advertise events if I thought we weren’t covered by a licence.

“I was shocked when I discovered that no applications had been made, I was given assurances they had.

“The police say they have made efforts to establish a good relationship with me, but I would have thought they would have contacted me sooner when they knew there was no TEN in place in February.

“Why did they wait until the end of April?”

Lancashire Police was approached for comment on Mr Newby’s claims.