Reprieve for Burnley bar as police licensing bid fails

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A Burnley bar can continue opening until 7am after a bid by police to curtail its hours failed.

The Blu Bar, off Cow Lane, can continue to serve from 1am to 7am after Burnley borough councillors waved away concerns from the police that the bar attracted early-morning drink-fuelled trouble.

In a Licensing Sub-Committee hearing lasting eight hours, Sgt Michelle Dixon, from Burnley police, cited 16 incidents from inside the bar, a figure disputed by the bar’s legal team, which accepted responsibility for only four assaults over a 14 month period, which they described as “an exemplary record.”

Barrister Miss Sarah Clover, representing the Blu Bar, said this was “a human rights issue” and curtailing the bar’s licensing hours could lead to the bar’s closure.

She added: “There is a lot of hearsay in the police arguments. Sgt Dixon’s opinion isn’t consistent with the evidence.”

Sgt Dixon told the committee that her officers had reported “a considerable increase” in early hours alcohol-fuelled disorder in the past few months.

She said: “Clearly, people are leaving other town centre venues at 5 or 6am and going to the Blu Bar for the last hour or two.

“My officers regularly stop me and mention the weekend they’ve had. The Blu Bar is mentioned the most. My earlies team, which start at 7am, are often called out during their morning briefing to this venue.”

Mr Richard Williams, acting on behalf of Lancashire Constabulary, said the bar “had become a place of last resort” with drunken revellers migrating there at the end of the night.

He added that around 40 crimes including serious assaults, thefts and disorder have happened in the vicinity of the bar.

Crime records reported a back alley stabbing, a 30-man brawl and a man punched unconscious and left with a broken jaw.

Mr Williams said: “This is not something we take lightly. This is incident and crime-driven. It is a significant issue that has to be dealt with.”

Licensee Mr Francesco Musso said: “A lot of these allegations are completely untrue.

“I find it very hard to stomach. A lot of the people causing problems are overspill from other bars.

“I think this (review) is being dictated by someone else. I’ve done everything I possibly can and I feel very upset that I’m in this position.”

Mr Musso said that late licensing hours, enjoyed by many town centre bars in Burnley, had “created a monster”.

He added: “We have hired extra door staff to patrol the streets. It’s almost like we’re baby-sitters for the rest of the town centre.”

After deliberating for around half an hour, Coun. Anne Kelly, chairing the committee, said: “Our decision is not to amend the current ours.

“We don’t feel the police evidence has withstood scrutiny from the licence holder.

“We feel there is no causal connection between crime and disorder and the Blu Bar itself.”