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Published on December 17th, 2010 | by Dean Carr


Sutra in Whetstone loses alcohol licence after string of incidents relating to the club

A WHETSTONE nightclub which boasted celebrity clients has had its licence taken away after a string of violent incidents.

Sutra had the licence revoked after a three hour licence review meeting during which councillors were told by police a death was “more likely to happen than not”.

The club, which was reopened in March, has played hosts to former Baywatch actress Pamela Anderson, and R&B star Ne-Yo as well as a string of Premiership footballers.

The licensing meeting heard about a string of problems inside and outside the High Road venue since the new owners were refused extended opening hours in May.

In one incident a man drove his car at a line of customers and door staff outside after being thrown out of the venue, described as the “worst performing in Barnet” by licensing Sergeant Mark Altman.

The meeting shown CCTV of the last incident on November 14 in which a man can be seen launching a bottle into a crowded dance floor and another knocking someone out with one punch.

Bouncers can be seen running around trying to separate several brawls in the premises as the crowd gets out of hand 20 minutes after the bar was meant to be shut.

Police had met with the owners on two occasions before this to discuss problems, but launched the licence review following the November 14 assaults.

Inspector Simon Roberts told the meeting: “I’m flabbergasted at the blatant disregard for the local community and the licensing objectives, and personal safety.

“I’m not prepared to police the premises on a daily basis. I feel at this stage I would have to put police officers outside these premises.

“I don’t gamble and the police don’t gamble with public safety.”

Speaking on behalf of the owners barrister Gary Grant told councillors revocation would be the “nuclear option” given it was the first review of the licence and proposed a raft of tougher conditions to operate under.

He added: “Many residents resent the fact there’s a nightclub in their midsts. A small minority of residents living nearby have been disturbed. These concerns are important as they need to be understood.

“There’s been 28 objections from 24 houses, and that’s despite the fact there’s been a campaigning frenzy to whip up objections.

“Certain elected officials have given quotes to newspapers and would see the closure of this club as a feather in their cap.”

He added the management would also be changed with a new “family man” put in charge and new door staff to stop a repeat of the problems.

Six neighbours and all three local councillors spoke out against the club at the meeting at Hendon Town Hall this morning.

Mother Claire Doherty, who lives in Swan Court next to the club, told the meeting she had found condoms and broken bottles in her garden from revellers leaving the venue.

She added: “The level of violence is appalling. This club has been nothing but trouble and it’s been going on for a long, long, time now.

“I think they’ve had enough chances and it’s time for it to stop now.”

Clive McCabe who lives in Rasper Road detailed a number of times he and his wife Anne had been woken by violent and aggressive behaviour from revellers in the early hours of the morning.

He added: “I fail to see how a new floor manager will be a deterrent against crime and disorder. Violence and disorder has led to several people being taken away for treatment in ambulances.”

Tory ward councillor Councillor Brian Coleman denied there had been political motivation to the club, co-owned by Socrates Protopapas, whose lawyer father Xenophon is a donor to the local Conservative party and was present at the meeting.

He told the hearing: “I’ve got nothing against nightclubs in general, it’s simply in the wrong place, in the middle of a residential area.”

The owners now have 21 days to lodge an appeal with Hendon Magistrates Court and if they do will be allowed to stay open until that is resolved.

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About the Author

Dean Carr

Dean has been involved in alcohol licensing for over 20 years and has helped many independent retailers and corporate clients obtain a licence to sell alcohol or offer late night refreshment, regulated entertainment from all sorts of premises. Dean writes articles for various trade related blogs and is currently Managing Director of the PLT group of companies who run APLH and SCPLH personal alcohol licence courses nationwide. You can contact Dean or a member of his expert licensing team on: 01242 222 188

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