IT is a venue that has been dogged by violence and drug-taking, where public safety has been put at risk and licensing laws flouted.
A damning dossier of evidence cataloguing problems at Eastleigh’s Club Regal was drawn up by Hampshire police in a bid to close the troubled night spot.
But despite the multitude of problems the controversial venue has won an 11th hour reprieve after new management was drafted in to turn the venue around.
The police report listing a catalogue of problems including:
- Drugs including cocaine, amphetamine and MCat being used in the toilets.
- Doorman “violently” assaulting a customer who had been thrown out.
- Growing reports to police of door staff “aggression”.
- A manager who failed to act when a female customer headbutted a doorman.
- A woman illegally searched for drugs by three door staff who took her upstairs.
- Failure to call police when a fight broke out inside and spilled out on to the street.
- New staff given no training.
It is the second report of its kind that police have prepared surrounding the venue in Market Street and put before licensing chiefs yesterday.
In November last year police failed in a bid to restrict the licence, when despite “very real concerns”, council chiefs gave the man in charge of ensuring people’s safety there a second chance.
The report described the failings of the designate premises supervisor, Richard Timson, who police say was “prepared to sacrifice public safety” and “put people at risk” through “cost-cutting”.
The report outlines Mr Timson’s “deliberate” attempts not to abide by the strict licensing rules imposed on licensees who run bars and clubs in the night time economy.
Police said that against strict rules, he didn’t bother to train staff and simply looked on instead of taking action when incidents occurred on the premises.
The club, which is popular with students, only opened in the summer of 2013 after being closed for some time and is now owned by Ross Taylor.
Yesterday the committee heard that Mr Taylor had now taken a more active role in the day to day running of the club and had installed a new designated premises supervisor, Jamie Carter.
Officers said that as the problems were all associated with Mr Timson they no longer could present any evidence to request the closure of the club, giving the panel no option but to allow the club to continue operating.
Eastleigh MP Mike Thornton said the nightclub was a valuable business in Eastleigh but backed the police’s actions in preparing the report.
He said: “Having a nightclub in Eastleigh does keep business in the town and provide a local venue for late night entertainment, but it must have responsible management, and be balanced with the impact it has on local residents.
“Clearly it is right that the police have brought this matter forward if they have concerns about public safety at the Club.
“I’m sure the Licensing Panel considered all of the evidence carefully and make a decision in the best interests of all local people.”
Closing the meeting, chairman of the committee, councillor Wayne Irish, said: “We do look forward to having a nice, safe venue in Eastleigh.”
Speaking afterwards, Mr Carter said: “It is onwards and upwards. It is a good challenge.”
Previously it had traded under the names of Flava, Fusion and Martines.
'This club has been my life's dream'
ROSS Taylor, managing director of the club, strongly disputed the police’s accusations contained in the report and said there have been no violence-related arrests at the club during his tenure.
Mr Taylor, 35, said Richard Timson was removed from his role as designated premises supervisor after the police requested it.
He said: “We removed Richard because that is what police wanted us to do. He has had enough of the licence trade anyway and does not enjoy it.
“The police's issues with Richard were all hearsay but we had to take on board what they said and that's why we took that decision.
“There has been nothing but goodness brought to Eastleigh town centre including creating jobs and bringing more people to the place. I took over the venue in November and there has been nothing but good vibes.”
He added: “As far as the violence from doormen goes that is just simply not true. What you make of this report all depends on what you read into it. We do not agree with a lot of the stuff that has been said in this report.
“We put every measure in place so there are not any drugs in our venue. We do everything we possibly can and we invite police in to check.
“We have had no arrests regarding drugs.”
Mr Taylor, who is also a DJ, hit back at suggestions made in the report he had “no experience” running a club and said he has learned from his father Keith who was a licensee for 36 years.
“This has been my dream all my life and I will continue to follow that dream,” he added.
CCTV 'showed doorman assaulting customer’
OFFICERS started gathering evidence late last year, yesterday’s meeting heard.
CCTV footage had been seized of an incident on November 3 last year in which a “frustrated” doorman assaulted a customer “quite violently” by pushing him over.
Only a month later officers returned to the club while it was closed and took swabs from the toilets, which were empty and clean at the time – and found them to be a “hotspot” for drug use.
In the ladies toilets, the report said “high readings” of cocaine, amphetamine and MCat were
found, while in the men’s toilets there was evidence of cocaine use.
Just days before Christmas, police went to the premises again amid growing reports about
“aggressive” door staff at the club.
And in January this year they found new staff working at Club Regal without any training,
while a fight had also broken out inside the club and spilled out on to the street – but nobody called the police.
A day later, on January 20, a female customer made a complaint that she had been taken upstairs by three members of door staff who carried out a drugs search which police say was “unlawful”.
- Additional reporting by Joe Curtis