Popular city centre nightclub Garlands will be able to re-open, but Lomax will remain closed following licensing hearings this week.
Council licensing bosses gathered at Liverpool Town Hall on Monday to announce that Garlands will re-open after a three-month ban. However, at a separate hearing on Tuesday, it was decided that Lomax will remain closed after losing its licence.
Both clubs have been closed since February when police stormed the premises amid concerns about drug dealing last month.
Sergeant Mike Hearty of Merseyside Police told the committee hearing on Tuesday that it was clear that Lomax’s management had been involved in the sale of Class A drugs, saying drugs were sold “over the counter as if it were the norm”, and recommended that the club’s licence be rescinded.
Mike Doyle, a trustee of the live music venue, protested that Lomax was important to the city’s music culture, and insisted that the new management team had no association with those responsible for the transgressions. Another trustee, Vinnie Spencer, offered to take measures including removing all flat surfaces from the bathrooms to discourage future drug use, but the committee ruled that the club must apply for a new licence.
Licensing consultant Karl Barry told JMU Journalism after the hearing: “The new company are disappointed on the basis that this decision is punitive on the people who are the management – not were the management. The point of the licensing committee is not supposed to be about punishment – and if it were, the wrong people are being punished.”
Mr Spencer, who has frequented the club as a guest and performer for 18 years, told JMU Journalism: “Our involvement was all about co-operation and this decision feels like a slap in the face. I would put this up there with what happened to Eric’s and the original Cavern as crimes against the city.”
Mike Doyle added: “The cause is worthwhile but it’s whether there’s any point [applying for a new licence]. Are they just going to make the same decision again? This was the city of culture, now it’s the city of vulture.”
However, the future looks brighter for the popular club Garlands, which will be allowed to re-open on Thursday 21st May after a three-month ban.
The council have ordered that this will be subject to a number of conditions which include removing the person responsible for liaising with police and the council; changing the firm that operates the security on the door and CCTV; staffing the toilets at all times, and – most importantly – implementing a new drugs policy, which will be reviewed quarterly by the police.
Additional reporting: Amy Nicholson