Claims of ‘drunken zombies’ spilling out of club at dawn

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A 24-hour bar in Burnley accused of filling the streets with drunken “zombies” at dawn, is facing a licence review.

Witnesses say streets around Blue Bar are a “war zone” and claim the area has become a hotspot for fighting and violence.

Police say around 40 crimes including serious assaults, thefts and disorder have happened in the vicinity of the Cow Lane club.

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

Concerns over disorder between 6am and 9am have led police to call for a review of the bar’s licence.

But Blu Bar owner Francesco Musso believes the venue is being unfairly blamed for late-night town centre disorder.

Mr Musso says the bar has an “exemplary” safety record and has vowed to fight for his 20 staff.

However, taxi driver Mohammed Afzaal, who provided a statement to police on the on-going problems, said: “I would describe the people that leave Blu Bar as hammered – drunk would be an understatement.

“They walk up like zombies. We call 6am to 9am survival mode. It is like a war zone.”

His statement said how levels of late-night violence and disorder had risen “dramatically” in the area around Cow Lane.

Police said, despite crime falling across the town centre over the past three years, incidents around Cow Lane and Blu Bar had increased.

Sgt Michelle Dixon, licensing officer for Burnley, said “There has been a “remarkable” increase in incidents between 6am and 8am which is attributable to these premises as they are the only premises operating during these hours.”

Sgt Duncan Arthur added: “My observations of practise around the Blu Bar is that drinkers are being allowed to drink too much, for too long, in an atmosphere which generates hostility, and the potential for violence, with the tendency when that violence occurs, to simply throw the problem out onto the street.”

Blu Bar owner Francesco Musso said: “I completely appreciate and understand there is an issue with trouble in the town centre, however, I believe licensing granting late licenses to bars in the town centre letting them close as late as 6am is forcing clubs like ourselves to close later and later.

“Unfortunately for us, there is a shift change with the town centre police at 4-30am until approximately 6am, in that time there are many fights and incidents in the town centre, but when the police come back on duty we are the ones blamed as we are the only place open.”

He added: “Blu bar is a safe place and our main priority is the welfare of our customers. We very, very rarely have any incidents inside the premises, I feel our record inside the bar, is exemplary and not the opposite.”