Derbyshire club to close early and have added restrictions after "unacceptable", "nightmare" level of crime and disorder
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In a Derbyshire Dales District Council licensing hearing this week (November 14) councillors chose to put further restrictions on the Bulan bar and nightclub in Dale Road, Matlock, following 15 crimes linked to the venue in 18 months.
This means the venue must now stop selling alcohol an hour earlier, at 2am, and close an hour earlier at 2.30am.
It must also ensure it has three registered door security staff on duty at all times (up from two), all of which must be wearing both high-visibility jackets and body cameras.
Alongside this, a maximum of 15 people will be allowed in the rear outdoor smoking area and the venue must have an ID scanner which logs people’s licences.
Councillors chose to allow the venue to retain its licence and stay open despite calls from nearby residents who say they are living in a “nightmare”, with neither police nor council officials calling for the “revocation” of Bulan’s licence.
The hearing was called by Derbyshire police after “unacceptable” levels of crime over a “12-month period” causing a “significant demand on police resources”, said PC Lora Holdgate, which is also “putting the public at risk of serious harm”.
PC Holdgate said improvements had been made after concerted police intervention “but it is all very delayed and doesn’t happen fast enough”.
The hearing was shown a 14-minute compilation of CCTV footage provided to police by neighbouring residents.
This footage showed 10 incidents ranging from March 19, 2022, to April 22, 2023, all of which involved fighting between Bulan patrons.
Incidents involved a mix of mass brawls and smaller one-on-one fights, including on the pavement and continuing further away from the venue, along with combat in the road itself with cars and other vehicles being forced to veer around people left lying on the floor or continually being punched, with management forced to manage traffic flow.
These incidents ranged from 11.45pm through to 2.55am and included serious violence, including a man being left unconscious, a man hitting his head on the kerb (reportedly resulting in a loud cracking sound) and a man on the floor being punched continuously for 20 seconds – along with extreme language from both customers and door security staff.
PC Holdgate claimed that a couple of these incidents involved “unacceptable” behaviour from door security staff, including one employee punching a customer and another in which an aggressive employee had to be restrained by colleagues.
The police claimed that consistent themes throughout the incidents are door security staff not assisting in incidents in which victims require help, not contacting police about incidents which may be crimes and lying to police officers when they attend after reports of a fight – with CCTV confirming the lies according to police – and suspects/aggressors of crimes being allowed back into the venue.
Cllr Sue Burfoot, one of the district and county councillors for the area, said the evidence from police was “frankly quite damning” and could not recall any reported issues from the previous owners of the venue.
She said: “In my opinion what residents are having to put up with is beyond unacceptable.
“Those living across from Bulan bar are being put through hell and it is hell for them living there.”
She claimed there had been no “meaningful intervention” from the venue.
Cllr Steve Wain, a former police officer, said: “I worked in the service for 34 years and was a licensing sergeant in the 90s and worked in some of these towns, but I have not seen wanton violence like has spilled out from the Bulan premises. The review is justified, necessary and proportionate.
“This is a market town, not a city centre. This is a place people come for holidays and short breaks and people are using gardens to urinate, causing excessive noise and are committing incidents in plain sight. It does not have a place in our town.”
Residents living nearby said there was no recognition that the venue was a “flashpoint” for street fights and anti-social behaviour, saying “no community should suffer like we have”.
Christopher Grunert, legal representative of the venue, on behalf of son-and-father duo Luke and John Taylor (licence holder and designated premises supervisor respectively), said the planned restrictions on the venue were a step too far.
He had put forward a plan to reduce last admission and readmission to 2am, retaining the current closing and alcohol sale hours.
He also suggested a minimum of one body-worn camera each night, with this rising if expected attendance was due to be over 150 customers.
Mr Grunert said: “We deeply regret these proceedings have occurred but please do not disregard the improvements that have been made.”
He contested that there have been no further incidents since June 25, 2023, with police disagreeing with this but being told they were unable to submit any new evidence to the hearing that had not been provided before it had started. Luke Taylor told the hearing he “did not recall” any further incidents.
With the CCTV incidents showing violence on the pavement and in the road, Mr Grunert contested “door supervisors are not police, they can’t roam the streets of Derbyshire looking to arrest people”.
He continued: “We are not lying about responsibility but once people are outside the premises they are outside of our responsibility. It is down to individual responsibility.
“We do not and are not expected to walk people home.”
Adam Keenaghan, legal representative for the police, said: “The officer (PC Holdgate) has given a compelling account of serious incidents that call into question why the licensing objectives are being breached.
“A number of these incidents are serious including theft, sexual assault and glass bottles being thrown, along with opening beyond the terminal hour and noise nuisance.
“If you watch the CCTV evidence nobody would come to the conclusion that the police are trying to mislead anybody about the seriousness of the situation.
“This venue is causing a burden on policing that cannot be left to stand.”
He said the need for body-worn cameras was “inarguable” and claimed anything less than one camera for every member of door staff would show a priority of “profit over safety to the public”.
The venue is able to appeal within 21 days of the decision being issued, with Mr Taylor and Mr Grunert saying after the hearing that this had not yet been decided and would be considered.