Stevenage bar owners insist Lounge 72 is 'safe' despite being linked to stabbing and drink spikings

Credit: PA generic pic of cocktail
A bar in Stevenage is appealing having its license revoked after the council voted to shut it down due to safety concerns. Credit: PA

The owners of a bar that has had its licence revoked have insisted it is "safe" despite it being linked with a stabbing and a 100-person brawl.

Councillors tried to shut down Lounge 72 in Stevenage after reports of alleged spikings and assaults at the venue.

Hertfordshire Police asked Stevenage Borough Council to review the bar's premises licence and at a hearing on 12 January a panel voted to revoke it.

Lounge 72's legal team is appealing the decision, which means the bar can temporarily remain open until a fresh decision is made in the magistrates' court system.

At the hearing, councillors found Lounge 72 failed to prevent public nuisance, prevent crime and disorder, uphold public safety and protect children from harm - four of the licensing objectives.

Police logs show six reports of suspected spiking, seven reports of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and three alleged rapes at the Old Town venue since the bar opened in July 2021, reports the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Councillors heard that a stabbing took place within or outside the venue on 22 October last year and that, on 20 November, staff dealt with an incident where a man punched a woman so hard she suffered a broken jaw.

A police officer described "the most frightening thing she has ever experienced in 30 years of policing" when she found herself attending a 100-person brawl on 16 April 2022.

Lounge 72's legal team declined to take part in the Stevenage licensing hearing, but written evidence put forward claimed staff had increased security measures after each incident, with extra CCTV, stab-proof vests and gloves, security wands and radios.

A bar spokesperson said: "We would like the general public to know that we are appealing the decision.

"While the appeal is in progress we continue to trade as normal.

"Lounge 72 is a safe place to visit, and we promote the licensing objectives of public safety.

"We have a zero-tolerance policy on any anti-social behaviour plus implement tough searching and ID scanning measures, and slight adjustments implemented to our opening nights to improve the measures already in place."

But Sgt Chris Adshead said: "The police have lost confidence in the premises and its managers' ability to fulfil their licence and its conditions."

A Stevenage Borough Council spokesperson said: "Following an investigation by Hertfordshire Constabulary and hearing at the committee meeting, a decision was made that the premises licence in respect of the Lounge 72 premises should be revoked.

"The minutes of the meeting are on the website, and Lounge 72 has the right to appeal."

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