THE shock police closure of a Preston nightspot has been slammed as “unfair and unjust” by the city’s Tory Party chairman.
Coun Daniel Dewhurst says the decision to shut down Macs Bar in Friargate for three months after trouble in the street outside has set a precedent “which cannot be sustained whilst trying to provide a nightlife in Preston.”
Police successfully applied for a closure order through the courts last week claiming the popular student venue had not done enough to control its customers once they left the premises. Even though all the incidents of disorder had been outside the premises, not inside, a district judge called “time” for three months, pending a licence review.
Coun Dewhurst, the youngest member of the city council, leapt to the defence of the bar’s owner. He claimed other councillors were also concerned by the decision.
“Ultimately this comes down to the ‘grey area’ outside nightlife venues in Preston city centre. Practically and legally this cannot be managed by doormen whose powers are limited to ensuring a safe environment inside the venue.
“Only the police have the powers to effectively prevent anti-social behaviour on our streets and that is how it must remain.
“It’s disappointing to see that the relationship between the Preston City Council and the Lancashire Constabulary, which has always been strong, has slipped on this particular occasion.
“There’s been a real lack of discussion taking place and it would appear that the decision to take the bar straight to court has been a knee-jerk decision when other measures by the licensing authority would have sufficed on this occasion.”
A petition to re-open Macs Bar currently has over 1,500 signatures. The council’s licensing panel will consider the closure in the next few weeks.