Catterick Garrison’s Club Louis to keep 4am licence on Fridays and Saturdays

Club Louis. Photo: Google

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Club Louis can continue serving alcohol until 4am on Fridays and Saturday, councillors have decided.

North Yorkshire Police had applied to Richmondshire District Council for the club to close at 2am on Thursdays, Friday and Saturdays in a bid to reduce problems in the area of the club including late night violence, anti-social behaviour and drink driving.

At a licensing sub committee meeting this week the club agreed to stop serving at 2am on Thursdays but contested the police’s request to shut earlier.

After hearing evidence both sides, members of the committee then agreed the club could continue serving alcohol until 4am.

A council spokeswoman said: “Licensable activities and opening hours are to remain as on the existing premises licence, other than on Thursdays when licensable activities will cease at 2am rather than 3am, save for late night refreshment which will cease at 2.15am rather than 3.15am.

“Closing time on Thursdays is to be 2.30am rather than 3.30am.”

The decision also modified conditions of the licence to improve enforceability, the council said.

Speaking after the hearing, manager Steve Wignall said: “We are disappointed that the police chose to disengage from the meetings that had, over previous years, helped us to reduce the number of overall incidents since North Yorkshire Bars took over the business in September 2011.

“We are supposed to engage in a partnership with the police in the pursuit of reducing incidents and we hope that the licensing department of the police in North Yorkshire will elect to re-engage with us as a business to target the small minority of people who misbehave, rather than the law aiding businessmen who are working hard to provide a warm, friendly and above all, safe environment for our customers to visit.”

The application was submitted to Richmondshire District Council by North Yorkshire Police and heard at a meeting at council offices in Richmond on Tuesday.

The force said it got more calls to incidents at the garrison club, , in Kitchener Road, than any other bar or nightclub in North Yorkshire and York in the 12 months to March 1, including venues in Scarborough, York and Harrogate.

The main grounds for review were that according to the police the management of the club “did not actively promote the licensing objectives of the prevention of crime and disorder and public safety” – a claim strongly rejected by the management which said they had implemented a number of measures to reduce trouble and had significantly cut problems at the club since they took over.

Explaining the behaviour of drinkers in the town, Sgt Kevin Graham, the neighbourhood policing sergeant for the garrison, said people would often drink at home, or in their mess if military, and then either go drinking in Richmond or Catterick before finishing the night at Club Louis.

He said the military were now closing their own bars at 11pm, meaning more soldiers were heading to the club to continue their night.

He said clubbers would often make their way from the club to McDonald’s at Tesco were there had been a number of assaults and anti-social behaviour.

He said the key location for violence anti-social behaviour in Catterick Garrison was Club Louis.

Sgt Graham added that it was decided to apply to alter the club’s licence after other efforts to reduce the problems were found not to be working.

Sgt Matthew France, licensing officer for North Yorkshire Police, said the factors contributing to the problems included the club’so location in a garrison town, the club’s target market of people wanting to drink between 1am and 3pm and a lack of public transport.

He said the majority of the 17 conditions attached to the club’s licence were irrelevant or not fit for purpose.

“We are not saying the management of Club Louis is poor, we are saying they are operating in a difficult environment,” he added.

Video footage of a disturbance outside the club was shown, as was a clip of a man falling down the steps leading up to the front door.

The police said they wanted the club to reduce its opening hours to shut at 2am on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Sgt France said the aim was to spread the night-time trade among the various licensed premises in Catterick and Richmond, rather than concentrating it at Club Louis.

Jonathan Smith, solicitor for North Yorkshire Bars, which runs the club, said the company took over Club Louis in 2011.

He said that at the time it had a serious problems with disorder.

However, he added: “We have reduced significantly the level of incidents at this bar while at the same time increasing the number of people using it.

“The situation as these premises has got considerably better since we took over.”

Mr Smith said the club managers had met with police and the military on several occasions, and had been told they had done everything that was required of them to reduce the problems.

Mr Wignall said the steps to reduce violence and disorder included replacing the previous door staff with better trained door supervisors who wherever possible tried to identify and deal with possible flash-points before violence broke out.

He said they had installed 16 new CCTV cameras, better lighting outside and toilet attendants.

A new dispersion policy had been introduced to encourage drinkers to leave the area as quickly and quietly as possible when the club closed.

The club’s beer garden had also been closed and patrons had been banned from taking drinks outside.

The club now has a zero tolerance approach to violence with 49 people banned after causing trouble, he added.

Signs had been erected outside warning drinkers not to drive home.