Police shut third bar after drugs raid

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Merseyside Police raid at Republik. Pic © Natalie Townsend / JMU Journalism

Merseyside Police raid at Republik. Pic © Natalie Townsend / JMU Journalism

Merseyside Police drugs raid squads continued their bid to halt the dealing of narcotics in city centre bars at the weekend, with Republik becoming the third venue to be shut by the force this month.

It follows the closure of Garlands on Eberle Street and the Lomax in Cumberland Street last week.

Merseyside Chief Superintendent Jon Ward said: “This is phase three of an investigation targeting irresponsible licensed premises where violence, and contributory factors such as drugs and excess alcohol, have caused issues.”

A number of arrests have been made for alleged drug-related offences during the three raids, with Garlands being shut for three months by court order after a hearing last week.

Republik, which describes itself as being “one of the crown jewels of Liverpool nightlife”, was swooped on by police in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Police Supt Ward explained the decision to close the Bold Street club, saying: “Unfortunately, as a result of our investigations we had no option but to take positive action at Republik this evening. In the last year there have been a significant number of violent incidents within the club. And a subsequent investigation carried out by detectives has found that Class A drugs and other substances, were freely available within the club.

He continued: “It is clear that this venue does not adhere to the same high standards as other licensed premises in the city.”

The closure of The Lomax has generated backing from a Facebook group which has been inundated with messages of support from customers and well-wishers who want the music venue re-opened.

A peaceful protest took place on Saturday on Cumberland Street with hundreds in attendance, many bearing #savethelomax t-shirts as live music was performed.

Hundreds gather to protest over the closure of The Lomax © Martin Graham 'Save The Lomax'

Hundreds gather to protest over the closure of The Lomax © Martin Graham ‘Save The Lomax’

Anna Grace Henney, the organiser of Save The Lomax Campaign Group, was delighted with the turn out and optimistic about the upcoming court decision that will decide the fate of the venue this week.

She told JMU Journalism: “The event was a huge success and I am proud of our Lomax family for their beautiful display of solidarity. The group hug was a touching moment which was followed by wonderful music and a great vibe. I’m feeling positive for a good result come Wednesday at court.”

The Lomax, the self-proclaimed “last true independent music venue in Liverpool”, has been graced by huge household names such as Radiohead, Muse, Oasis, Stereophonics and Coldplay, along with being a popular platform for local bands.

Rowan Reid, a singer and guitarist in the band Shemanarchy, said: “I’ve been coming to The Lomax now since I was 19 when I was starting out as a musician. Since then it’s been like a home and a family to me. I’ve met so many of my close friends in this place and in all the years I’ve been going there’s been no violence and no trouble.”

About Josh Kelsall, JMU Journalism