The future of Birmingham’s biggest nightclub Gatecrasher, which left dozens of creditors out of pocket amid debts of over £2 million, is to be decided by licensing chiefs following police claims of violence and drug-taking.
West Midlands Police asked Birmingham City Council to review Gatecrasher’s licence after complaining about stabbings, cannabis smoking and violence on Broad Street.
The application was first made in October, but after four adjournments police applied for a second review, citing more incidents of violence and disorder.
The first review followed a triple stabbing last April, claims that cannabis was openly being smoked inside the club in September and a 4am street brawl in the same month which saw riot police deployed.
This week the licencing sub-committee heard more than six hours of evidence as police called for the use of plastic glasses, police-approved security officers and ID checks and weapon searches of every customer.
During the hearing the force conceded that the Broad Street trouble, on September 29, was not the fault of the venue or the operators of the 2,400 capacity club.
But the club told the committee that police were to blame for the disorder and showed the committee CCTV and phone footage alleging police brutality.
Sarah Le Fevre, a barrister representing the nightclub, said: “It’s quite plain that the events that triggered the review had nothing to do with Gatecrasher.
“This was unfortunately managed by the police officers at the scene, which is what we have tried to show with the video clips and the witness statements we have submitted.
“The fault lies entirely elsewhere but half of the pages submitted in the original review deal squarely with the events of that evening.”
The conduct of officers is still subject to internal police and IPCC investigations, but the force lodged its latest review in February complaining of two alleged attacks on customers by security staff.
They also claimed there had been two incidents where customers had been glassed and a further incident where gang members were able to walk into the club without weapon searches.
The committee was shown CCTV of the men (since identified as gang members) walking through a VIP area and avoiding the normal weapon searches.
Gary Grant, barrister for West Midlands Police, said: “The only motivation of the police is to work with the operator to make the venue as safe as is humanely possible. There have been a number of incidents since December and we have drafted more conditions.
“We are asking for modest, robust, but focused conditions. The police are not heavy-handed and are not picking on this club.”
The licensing sub-committee can apply conditions, suspend the licence for up to three months or revoke it completely. The decision will be announced by Monday.
The Post revealed last month that more than 230 creditors left over £2 million out of pocket when Gatecrasher became insolvent will not receive a penny in compensation.
A progress report into the pre-pack administration of the nightclub group revealed 233 unsecured creditors – including Birmingham City Council – had lost a combined £2,081,840.
But the report, by administrators Duff and Phelps, admitted: “Based upon the current information available, there will be insufficient realisations to enable a distribution to the non-preferential unsecured creditors of the companies.”
The cash blow for creditors came six months after Broad Street-based Gatecrasher went bust when its owners piled up multi-million pound debts.
The venue was one of four UK clubs which entered into pre-pack administration after the Gatecrasher group fell into huge debt.