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Manchester bar Neighbourhood ordered to install ‘knife arch’ after fears of reprisals from Longsight gang

13 Apr, 2018

Manchester bar Neighbourhood ordered to install ‘knife arch’ after fears of reprisals from Longsight gang

Bosses at celebrity haunt Neighbourhood have been ordered to install a ‘knife arch’ after a man with connections to a Longsight gang was seriously hurt in a brawl.

The venue will also have to serve drinks in plastic cups four nights a week.

Police said they were ‘extremely concerned’ that reprisals were ‘highly likely’ following a melee at the Spinningfields venue, in which the friend of ‘prominent members’ of a Longsight gang was said to have been badly injured.

A knife-wielding reveller was hit with a glass bottle by a bouncer, it is alleged.

The bar’s licence was suspended after police raised major concerns about safety, which can now be revealed in detail following a town hall hearing.

A GMP report handed to council bosses stated a senior police officer believed Neighbourhood was ‘associated with serious crime or serious disorder or both’ following the melee in the early hours of March 19.

Police said they had concerns about the ‘type of clientele’ at Neighbourhood, ‘specifically gang members’.

Town hall licensing chiefs have now allowed the venue to reopen, but under strict conditions agreed with police.

In a report, councillors, stating their reasons for the suspension, said: “The committee is concerned at the level of violence that took place at the premises, in particular the use of a bottle to cause serious injury to a person by a member of the door staff.

“The committee accepts the evidence given by GMP that there is a great risk of reprisal due to the injured person and their association with gangs.

“Further, the committee has concerns that the police were not called immediately when the premises knew the male had a knife.”

The hearing was told that a 999 call handler was told a fight, involving around 20 people, broke out inside the bar just before 1am – and that security staff were ‘in the midst’ of the brawl.

The trouble continued outside after people were thrown out.

The report said CCTV footage, seen by police, showed one of the Neighbourhood bouncers hitting a man, who was reportedly armed with a knife, on the head with a glass bottle.

He had been ushered outside by security staff before allegedly brandishing the weapon and making threats as he became ‘irate’, the report said.

Shortly after, the venue doors ‘burst open’ as a number of men ran out and helped the injured reveller up.

Another argument then broke out and a bouncer was reportedly punched.

A group of men, the report said, then attempted to barge through the doors, using a metal pole, as security staff held them shut.

The police report read: “GMP are obviously extremely concerned by the level of violence used during this incident, from both the male and the door staff and we believe if the premises had contacted GMP at the point when the male was first ejected, and produced the knife, this escalation and injuries could have been avoided.”

The report said the man remains in hospital waiting surgery to his eye and will be spoken to by officers when he is discharged.

Police said they were concerned the man had been able to enter the bar with a knife, considering Neighbourhood bosses had been ordered to use metal detector wands on customers following an earlier incident.

“It is not clear from the footage we have at this time whether or not the door staff were using these wands, but regardless of whether they were or not, the male was able to gain entry to the premises with a knife before being ejected.”

On the issue of clientele, the GMP report added: “Another very serious aspect of this incident is that officers who have viewed the CCTV have identified some of the males on the footage as being prominent members of a Longsight organised crime group and as one of their friends has received serious injury during this incident GMP are extremely concerned that reprisals are highly likely to follow.”

It added: “GMP have serious concerns as to the level of violence which occurred at the premises and by the demographic of some of the patrons who are frequenting there.”

Neighbourhood bosses, GMP and the council agreed on a number of new licensing conditions at Thursday’s licensing committee hearing.

They include:

  • A ‘knife arch’ being put up at the main entrance. The weapon detector must be in use from 10pm Thursday to Sunday
  • All drinks being decanted into polycarbonate cups from 9pm Thursday to Sunday. No glassware will be allowed after that time
  • All customers entering the venue being required to have identification scanned onto a system, from 10pm Thursday to Sunday
  • Dancing on tables and seats being banned
  • The venue closing at 11.30pm on Sundays
  • The bar using accredited door staff from 8.30pm until 30 minutes after closing Thursday to Sunday

Subject to a final check from police, Neighbourhood will open from 4pm on Thursday (April 12).

CEO and founder James Hitchen said: “Our biggest priority is to make sure Neighbourhood continues to be the best restaurant and party venue in town, so we have introduced a number of additional security measures so that everyone can continue to enjoy their time with us.

“One of these measures means that all customers who enter the venue after 10pm between Thursday and Sunday will be required to show their photo identification.

“We look forward to welcoming everyone back and are thankful that the actions of a handful of individuals have not ruined something that is enjoyed by thousands of people in the city every single week.”

A spokesman for GMP said three men had been voluntarily interviewed in relation to the incident on March 19. The investigation is ongoing.

A spokesman for Spinningfields Management Company (SMC), on behalf of Allied London, said: “We have worked closely with Neighbourhood as well as various city authorities including GMP licensing over recent months to ensure the venue operates within our strict protocols.

“SMC works tirelessly to ensure Spinningfields is a secure environment, and as such are supportive of any measures taken by the authorities which guarantee public safety on the estate.

“SMC controls the management of Spinningfields public realm, but also work hard to ensure building owners and tenants comply with our operational standards as a matter of absolute priority.

“This is a complete anomaly and SMC will ensure the venue is brought in line with the estate’s exacting standards.”

Source – Manchester Evening News

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