Investigation launched into Preston nightclub reopening after footage emerges of partygoers gathering on dancefloor

Preston City Council has announced an investigation into the reopening of Switch nightclub will be launched after videos emerged from inside the event.

By Sean Gleaves
Tuesday, 4th August 2020, 7:48 am

Switch, a popular nightclub in Preston, was given the green light to open its doors on Saturday (August 1) following last-minute approval by Preston City Council.

It was agreed the venue would be allowed to reopen on the basis that it was repurposed into a bar - a decision which was made after the club took legal action against the council.

This meant the venue could reopen on the basis that it did not provide dance space for customers and followed strict health and safety measures.

But following its reopening night the club was criticised for its lack of social distancing measures after footage emerged of revellers congregating on the dance floor.

Preston City Council has now confirmed it will be launching an investigation into the weekend's events as a result of the videos.

Councillor Peter Moss, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Planning and Regulations, said: "Having received further guidance from the Government's Office for Product Safety and Standards on Friday, we informed the operator of Switch that they would no longer be able to reopen August 1.

"Lawyers acting on behalf of the operators challenged this position on the basis that the venue was repurposing as a seated bar, which are legally allowed to open under the current Regulations.

The venue was only allowed to reopen on the basis thatit did not provide dance space for customers. (@Becky27808196)

"The council sought legal advice from a highly experienced barrister. It was determined that the operator of Switch was legally able to repurpose and open as a bar, provided they followed strict safety precautions, including not providing a space for dancing.

"During the evening of 1 August, our enforcement officers made 2 separate visits to the venue – each time working with the operator to make necessary changes. We are aware of the videos that are circulating on social media and officers will investigate the situation."

The incident comes just days after millions in nearby Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire were hit with new lockdown rules.

Simon Berry, 48, recently moved into the Limehouse apartment building in Ringway - an apartment complex located directly next to Switch.

The club was criticised for its lack of social distancing measuresafter footage emerged of revellers congregating on the dance floor. (@Becky27808196)

He says he was shocked to see such a lack of social distancing at the back of the club.

"There was a load of noise from outside of the apartment but at first I just thought it was a party going on or something," he said.

"When I looked outside at about 2.30am there was about 20 or 30 people just screaming and shouting at the back of the club. It was so loud.

"There was no social distancing happening which is completely disgraceful given that Preston is on the cusp of a lockdown."

PrestonCity Council has now confirmed it will be launching an investigation into the weekend's events. (@Becky27808196)

In a statement shared by Switch on Facebook prior to its reopening, the club confirmed it would be repurposed into a bar in accordance with government guidelines and legislation.

Switch's website also lists a number of changes the club has made to keep guests and staff safe, including limiting the number of people inside the building.

The statement read: "You may be aware that Switch was due to open tonight based on guidelines and legislation as a live music venue. Due to the announcement from Boris yesterday, we have had to repurpose our operation for tonight into a bar environment.

"We have been in dialog with Preston City Council across this process. You may have seen a Facebook post from Preston City Council suggesting that we would not lawfully be permitted to open.

"We have subsequently taken legal advice from Malcolm Ireland (Napthens) and Leo Charalambides (Kings Chamber) who have worked hard this last 12 hours, and can confirm that we can open lawfully this evening. We understand that Preston City Council will be removing the Facebook post. 

"It is, and has always been our intention to reopen and repurpose Switch to deliver a safe and enjoyable experience."

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