Court puts sword to Zanzibar plan

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Related tags: Crown court, Nottingham

by Richard Matthews A Crown Court's decision to overturn a previous ruling of a licensing panel and turn down a licence for a city-centre superclub...

by Richard Matthews A Crown Court's decision to overturn a previous ruling of a licensing panel and turn down a licence for a city-centre superclub in Nottingham has left Springwood Leisure devastated. Executive chairman Adam Page said he was "incredibly disappointed at the decision". "This is a foretaste of what may happen throughout the country when the new 24-hour licensing bill becomes law," he said Last year, Nottingham's licensing panel gave the go-ahead for a £2m, 1,800-capacity Zanzibar nightclub to be developed by Springwood in the city centre. But police appealed against the decision and, after a week-long hearing, the Crown Court decided the club would pose a threat to public safety and leave police unable to cope. Judge Richard Pollard told Nottingham Crown Court: "This nightclub will produce an element of people that will be responsible for disorder later in the night." Springwood, which operates 10 similar outlets around the country, has been battling for 19 months to win permission to create a club on the site of the former Odeon Cinema. The company has the right to take its fight to the Court of Appeal, but Page said that was "very unlikely". He added: "This is a sad decision for Nottingham. This extraordinary decision has been made on the grounds that Nottinghamshire police are under-resourced and can't cope with any more nightclubs and that the Zanzibar concept was no different in substance to the Works, Palaise, Ocean and Rock City." Both sides were ordered to pay their own costs. The court heard evidence that the police were stretched to the very limit of their resources. Chief Constable Steve Green gave evidence, and a controversial BBC documentary depicting violence in Nottingham centre was also shown. The judge had described Springwood Leisure bosses as "decent, honest and honourable" and said he had no doubt that they knew how to run a nightclub well. But he added: "We find the addition of a further significant club of the size proposed will make policing unsustainable in the city of Nottingham." Policing stretched to the limit' Evidence in support of the police appeal was given by the owners of Ocean, Rock City, the Palais, Berlins, Liberty's, and Jumpin' Jak's, who supported the contention that Nottingham's police were at breaking point with incidents of fighting, drunkenness, urinating and vomiting at night. They also contended that the city's new £200m express transit system would not cope with the traffic generated by a new club. It was agreed in court that an average of five arrests were made each Friday and Saturday night in Nottingham city centre when an average of 70,000 people per night come into the area. "These few incidents cover all activities including not just pubs and clubs, but also restaurants, cinemas, theatres, shops, and general street crime," said Adam Page.

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