Club manager stays despite incompetence fears

After Dark nightclub, Boston.
After Dark nightclub, Boston.

THE manager of a Boston nightclub hauled in front of a licensing review has been allowed to keep his position - despite board members saying they had ‘serious concerns’ over his ability to do the job.

Steve Abel, manager of After Dark, on Craythorne Lane, faced accusations of incompetence including a lack of knowledge and training and a tendency to inflame situations, when he appeared before Boston Borough Council’s licensing sub-committee on Thursday.

Councillors Paul Gleeson, Helen Staples and Stephen Woodliffe decided these were not sufficient to strip him of his role, but insisted that he undertake training in the next two months to continue in his job

Mr Abel was brought before the licensing committee as the premises supervisor of the club following concerns that it was failing to ‘promote licensing objectives for the prevention of crime and disorder and public safety.’

At the hearing, the committee was told that on several occasions children under the age of 18 had been found on the premises. There had also been problems with the number of door staff and with CCTV where police had been unable to obtain footage following incidents.

Other issues included Mr Abel getting involved in ‘volatile’ situations on the door - something which he has not been legally allowed to do since his door staff licence expired in 2009.

PC Rachel Ward said: “For some considerable time police have been concerned about Mr Abel’s ability to manage the premises. He is frequently responsible for escalating situations himself.

“It’s the worst club in the Boston and South Holland area. That’s not to say we would not expect that - the nature of the club is that we would expect it - but it’s a problem and it does need addressing.”

She added that Mr Abel, who has not received sufficient training for the role he holds, seemed to have ‘a total lack of awareness and understanding of the licensing objective and how to promote them.’

Police recommended that Mr Abel was removed from his post in light of his failings, but Andy Grimsey, a solicitor acting on behalf of After Dark, said he thought that would be ‘disproportionate to the concerns which have been raised.’

However, he did agree to a number of stringent conditions which were placed on the club’s licence, including daily testing and monitoring of the CCTV system, the constant use of two door staff between certain opening times, and a more robust policy to prevent under age drinkers being served. The committee also required that multi-lingual signs were put up outside the premises stating the need for valid ID as proof of age.

Mr Abel was told he must undertake training as the designated premises supervisor and further training to allow him to supervise activity on the door.

Coun Paul Gleeson, who chaired the meeting, said: “This is an issue which is very serious, and it’s something that does need sorting out.”