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Monday, 24 November 2014

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Police want Carlisle club landlord kicked out

Police want a Carlisle club boss kicked out as landlord after a number of complaints including reports of a blood-soaked brawl and alleged on-the-job drinking.

Martin Bell photo
Martin Bell

Officers are asking for a review of Martin Bell’s licence at The Club in Victoria Place after allegations he was found to be “intoxicated” when officers were called in three times.

The force also found a 14-year-old boy on the premises during a spot-check, claimed Mr Bell tried to stop police getting in another time and were called to other trouble that was said to involve him.

But Mr Bell says he has now “packed in the drink” and he had no trouble in four years as a licensee until the nights highlighted by police, which he said were isolated incidents.

“One thing we are definitely not is hostile,” he told the News & Star. “Far from it.”

Carlisle City Council’s licensing sub committee will consider the application by Cumbria Constabulary at a meeting this week.

It can take steps including issuing an informal warning, modifying conditions or suspending the licence.

In papers filed with the city council, police say the application is being made to prevent crime and disorder.

A report gives details of a number of incidents. These are:

  • A night on December 4, 2010, in which police made a “routine licensing visit to the premises” and found it “frequented by numerous young persons, including a 14-year-old boy”. Although there was no evidence of the youths having drunk any alcohol “the atmosphere was hostile towards the police with some disorderly behaviour taking place”. Mr Bell was spoken to “and found to be heavily intoxicated, unco-operative and offensive towards officers”. Following this Mr Bell was spoken to and warned by police and the licensing manager at the council.
  • A call-out for police to “a disturbance at the club” in the early hours of December 2 last year. The report states: “On arrival, the police found Martin Bell in charge and in their opinion he was under the influence. On speaking to witnesses it was alleged Mr Bell had threatened several persons over the loss of some keys and that this dispute had spilled out into the street. Again Mr Bell was uncooperative.” Mr Bell was later warned he should “not be intoxicated to any degree” while in charge – and further incidents would lead to a review of the licence.
  • A report of “a large disturbance” at the club early on December 24. The report says: “On arrival police found glasses being thrown and Mr Bell again in charge of the premises. One officer stated Mr Bell closed the door to prevent the police gaining access. Access was eventually gained. The premises were found to be in uproar, with several males arguing and several covered in blood.

“Mr Bell was covered in blood and found to be intoxicated. He initially shouted at the police to leave the premises and had to be forcibly removed himself.”

On the flip side, statements also reveal a visit where Mr Bell was “sober and the premises orderly”. Other evidence said the 14-year-old in the club had been “employed to collect glasses”.

Mr Bell, who has held the premises licence since November 2007, said he had never had to call the police.

The trouble on December 24 had followed ‘Black Eye Friday’, when workers celebrate finishing for Christmas.

“The police made out I stopped them coming in. It was nothing of the sort. I wanted to defuse the situation,” he said. “Every one [of the complaints] is about me consuming alcohol. I’ve packed in the drink.”

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