There are fears that closing a local nightclub for two weeks and introducing other measures will not be enough to prevent any future problems from having a ripple effect on residents living in the city.
Chichester district councillors decided to close Thursdays from August 17 until September 2 to allow the appointment of new staff and the installation of CCTV inside and outside its Oving premises.
However, district councillor for the Chichester south ward Pam Dignum said: “I know these problems of the nightclub extend beyond the perimeters of the nightclub itself. There are bus links from the nightclub to Chichester.
“Not enough is being done to control what is going on. It is having a big impact on residents.
“There has been a problem for four years since I became a councillor. The conditions suggested are eminently sensible to tackle the problem. The nightclub wants to be back in business.
“There is more business in term time and the two weeks it is closed is not during term time. I would have preferred for its closure to incorporate some weeks during term time.”
Cllr Dignum also said residents would welcome a greater police presence within the city when the transport links to and from the club are in operation.
District councillor for the Chichester east ward Quentin Cox said: “The transport links drop club-goers off in various parts of the city centre and there have been reports of disturbances at 1am or 2am in the morning.”
A meeting of the district’s licensing and gambling acts sub-committee had been called last Thursday to consider a police request for a review of the club’s premises licence – the first review to take place in the district.
It was told at the start of the hearing police and owners William Hardwicke 2000 Ltd had reached agreement on proposed conditions. And after a 45-minute adjournment to allow the two sides to ‘fine tune’ the details, councillors agreed to accept the proposals.
Alcohol sales will have to finish at 2.30am, instead of the current 3.30am, and the premises will close at 3.30am instead of 4.30am.
Conditions will include a stipulation that a bus service taking customers to Chichester will not run after 3am.
Peter Savill, counsel for the police, said they had a catalogue of incidents of crime, disorder and public nuisance which showed the licensing objectives were being undermined.
Underpinning the agreement was a change in management. A new designated premises supervisor had been appointed, and a security manager would be appointed who would supervise the security team. “The police say these premises had been poorly managed and that a change was necessary,” said Mr Savill.
A principal concern was the bus service from the city to the premises. People who were drunk had been conveyed to the premises, and later dumped back in the city centre, causing problems of noise, disorder and crime.
“The police say there may have been a culture of allowing drunkenness at the premises,” he added.
People who were drunk would not be allowed in, and people would not be allowed to get drunk in the premises.
“The root problem is drunkenness, which the police expect the new management team to address,” he said.
But he warned if there was a return to the problems of the past, the police would not hesitate to bring a further application for a review.
“They may not be so willing or prepared to negotiate a second time round,” he warned.
James Anderson, representing the owners, said the review had been something of a wake-up call for his clients. “We are aware we will be closely watched in the future,” he added.