A SOUTHAMPTON restaurant will remain closed until later this year after breaching Covid-19 rules following a party with over 100 people and hundreds of laughing gas canisters on the floor.

Iroko Lounge, on Onslow Road, will not be able to reopen until November 18 after what has been described as “the worst breach” of the Covid-19 rules across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

The decision was takenafter a police report revealed that more than 100 people attended a party at the venue on August 23. 

At the time police officers could not fully enter the venue “due to the number of persons inside dancing in immediate proximity to each other”, it has been revealed.

There was no evidence of social distancing, no Covid-19 risk assessment and track and trace details “did not exist”, the force said.

A statement says: "Music was clearly audible from inside and flashing disco lights were also visible through the frosted front windows.

"Eventually the music was turned off and the lighting levels raised with had the effect of causing a mass egress.

"My attention was immediately drawn to the hundreds of chrome nitrous oxide canisters that littered the floor and fixed bench seating.

"It's the most canisters I have seen in a venue save for festivals."

According to a Hampshire Constabulary report a man called Malcom Forbes identified himself as “being in charge” and reportedly told the police that the event was a private party and that he was doing “nothing wrong”.The report also revealed that the police had to deal with “ anti-social behaviour from the 100 strong group as they blocked the road and refused to disperse”.

Other documents presented to the Licensing Sub-Committee at Southampton City Council claimed that the venue had been booked for 50 people but the party was “gate-crashed ” and control of the situation was lost. The committee was previously asked to revoke the licence. 

But at a meeting earlier this week it was told that new mitigation measures had been agreed with the police.  The committee was told that Mr Forbes was running the venue after he was granted a lease by premises licence holder Haydar Rahman last year. Mr Rahman said he was not aware of the party at the site.

Members were also told that Mr Forbes is no longer associated with the venue.

The committee decided to suspended the licence until November and apply the new conditions agreed with the police, including CCTV cameras and staff training . 

In a statement members of the committee said: “Our decision in no way relinquishes the responsibility of the premises’ license holder, however, following police recommendations, conditions were agreed that ensured the property owner, who was not present at the events in the early hours of 23rd August 2020, will work closely with both the police and licensing in addressing concerns.

"If the circumstances had been different, and we were dealing directly with the person responsible on-site, then there is no doubt that this decision would have resulted in the full revocation of the premises’ license.”

Hampshire Constabulary confirmed that no-one was charged or arrested in connection with the incident. 

At the meeting the police clarified that what was breached were guidelines “not supported with a great deal of enforcement powers”. 

The Daily Echo has tried to contact Malcom Forbes.