Club boss warns: Youths could die

CONCERN: Leigh Sweetman, general manager at Evoque
CONCERN: Leigh Sweetman, general manager at Evoque
Share this article
Have your say

A Preston nightclub faces a bill of thousands of pounds after dozens of freerunning youths ran amok on the rooftop, leaving a trail of damage.

Nightclub bosses, police and city leaders today condemned the gang.

MESS: A wall covered with graffiti

MESS: A wall covered with graffiti

The group of around 30 young people was spotted climbing and freerunning on the roof of Evoque in Church Street by a staff member.

They had made their way on to the top of the popular nightspot after using the drain pipes and their own ladder. When the management team inspected the building, they found the group had caused a considerable amount of damage, including broken doors, graffiti and smashed windows.

It appears that the group also tried to get into an underneath storage area and broke wooden panels off a wall.

Today bosses said it will cost hundreds of pounds to repair the damage and thousands to come up with preventative measures to stop something similar happening again.

The group was seen on the building on Saturday evening and club bosses fear somebody could end up seriously injured, or dead.

The team at Evoque is also worried that there could be further damage to the club and neighbouring buildings.

Today Leigh Sweetman, general manager of Evoque said: “We would urge parents to warn their children of the potential consequences which could be life threatening.

“Our roof is not a safe environment for teenagers and we would encourage them to find somewhere else to socialise. What’s it going to take for one of them to fall off? Then we’re dealing with a fatality.

“I would say they were 10 to 15 years old. It’s not just a few youths, when there’s lots together that’s when accidents happen, when they’re egging each other on – that’s when someone is going to get a serious injury.

“We were lucky because one of the members of staff lives opposite and called the police.”

Leigh said he didn’t think the gang was an organised freerunning group.

He added: “It’s going to cost hundreds to repair the damage and thousands to come up with preventative measures.

“We are going to have to spend mega money to stop them trying to gain access.

“We don’t want anybody to die. If we have to spend thousands to stop a child dying that’s what we will do.”

Lancashire Police confirmed they had been called to a report of youths on the roof of the building at around 5.50pm on Saturday and said they spoke to some youths at the scene.

They also confirmed a report of criminal damage. City Centre Sgt Phil Orme said his advice to these people is “don’t do it.” He added: “They’re putting themselves at risk, we see far too many people who are victims of tragic accidents.

“I don’t want to have to speak to parents and say ‘your son was trying to do something daft on a high building’.

“If people are going to do this they need to do it somewhere safely and make people aware of where they are and what they are doing.

“My main concern is the safety of these individuals – we have a duty of care to stop them.”

Locally there is a professional free running group who practices the art in a safe and professional way.

Sean Delaney, team manager and director of the Street Monkeys, said the group wouldn’t class the acts of the youths as freerunning.

He said their behaviour is “not what” their community is about.

He added: “We do run it in a safe environment, we have got two academies, one at Leyland Leisure Centre and one at Penwortham Leisure Centre.

“We would advise people who want to learn properly with professional free runners they can come and learn with us.”

Meanwhile town centre councillor Drew Gale slammed the act as “utter madness.”

He added: “Somebody is going to get seriously hurt, it’s not big and it’s not clever. It needs to stop now.”