Concerns after nightclub hours extended

OFFICIALS have warned police may not be able to cope after a controversial application to extend the opening hours of a Suffolk nightclub was approved.

OFFICIALS have warned police may not be able to cope after a controversial application to extend the opening hours of a Suffolk nightclub was approved.

The message came after councillors voted in favour of Club Brazilia, on Station Hill in Bury St Edmunds, remaining open for an additional two hours every Sunday night.

The application, approved by St Edmundsbury Borough Council's licensing and regulatory committee last week now also means the nightclub will also remain open until 2am on bank holiday Sundays.

But councillors have predicted the weekly extension – until 12.30am on Monday mornings – will result in an increase in late-night noise and anti-social behaviour, leading to vandalism and criminal damage, leaving the police struggling to cope.

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"We know that the police cannot cope with all the disturbances on Station Hill as well as policing all the people walking home through the residential streets, causing criminal damage. They just don't have enough people," said Risbygate Ward councillor David Nettleton.

"But officers could not oppose the application, as the club is well managed and it is impossible to attribute any particular problems to any particular venue.

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"The club owners are now on trial for six months, to see if they can make it work. If people find there is a problem with the extension, then they should make representations to the council or to me and I will follow it up.

"However, at the moment, we must keep an open mind about how this will work."

Speaking after the decision was made, Mike Nunn, spokesman for Suffolk Police, said: "We are in an extremely fortunate position, in that we now have more police officers than ever before, and therefore more resources to work with.

"We will, as we have in the past, continue to work very closely with the clubs in question. In some part, the onus is on the club management and those who attend the club to ensure that the appropriate behaviour is displayed both in the venue and as the club goers make their way home.

"Public disorder crime remains very high on our list of priorities here at Suffolk Police, and although we are not expecting any consistent problems in relation to the clubs, we will be monitoring the situation on a continuous basis."

Before the meeting, the owners of the nightclub insisted new policies, designed to disperse revellers leaving the venue, would keep predicted public disorder to a minimum.

"There has been demand for the additional hours, particularly on a Sunday, for some time," said Steve Dennis, director of Luminar Leisure Ltd, which owns Club Brazilia.

"The venue is therefore introducing a dispersal policy at around the terminal hour.

"This comprehensive review of good practice will maximise the effect of Club Brazilia on neighbours and the local community."

A second application, to extend the opening hours of Whatever and The Avenue, in the town's Kings Road until 1am between Mondays and Wednesdays, was also granted by the committee for a temporary six-month period.

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