Police object to troubled bar licence being taken on by Manchester care firm

Police have objected to plans for a Manchester-based care company to take over the running of a bar linked to the stabbing of a boxer in Liverpool city centre.

Following a large brawl outside The Safe House bar on Victoria Street in the early hours of 27 December, Anthony Dodson was taken to hospital with stab wounds having been found at the junction of Church Street and Whitechapel.

Liverpool Council moved quickly to suspend the premises’ licence before moving to revoking it entirely last month, subject to appeal.

Now, Merseyside Police have raised concerns about a possible transfer of terms to a care firm located along the M62, with fears the existing licence holder could remain involved.

Following a lengthy committee hearing on 24 January, it was confirmed by the local authority and police that the licence would be stripped from The Safe House after the attack on Mr Dodson during the festive period. Three other men also suffered serious injuries, including a 21-year-old who was stabbed in the back and a 23-year-old who suffered lacerations to his head after being struck with a glass or bottle.

A 20-year-old man was later traced who had also suffered lacerations to the head. A total of seven men have been charged to date in connection with the incident. 

A three-person panel at Liverpool Town Hall agreed to remove the business’ permission to sell alcohol after hearing evidence from police and owner Meshach Harris. The initial review was instigated by the force owing to the bar’s potential association “with serious crime and disorder.”

However, a bid was made to transfer the licence from Mr Harris the day before the crunch hearing. Police have now objected to that application, with a fresh showdown set for 21 February.

In a written representation, licensing constable Nicola Ireland raised concerns regarding the transfer to a Manchester-based firm known as Right-Step Ltd. PC Ireland said such a move would undermine licensing objectives of prevention of crime and disorder and questioned the role of Mr Harris in a new operation.

She wrote, “Merseyside Police are concerned that the previous premises licence holder is still going to be involved in the day-to-day running of the premises, as disclosed during the committee hearing 24/01/24, which would mean no material change to the operation of these premises.”

Mr Harris is also the licence holder at Dreamers lap dancing bar in the same building.  He was awarded terms last April for the venue after the original licence lapsed during the coronavirus pandemic.

Right-Step Ltd is listed on Companies House as a care company, with one listed director. Constable Ireland said in the written response by police that there is “no indication” the business has experience in running a licenced city centre premises, “which was a contributory factor in the failures of the previous premises licence holder.”

As a result of the objection being lodged by police, the sub-committee must hold a hearing later this month and is advised to object to the application “if it considers appropriate for the promotion of the prevention of crime and disorder.”

The LDRS contacted Mr Harris’ representatives for comment.

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