A south Liverpool bar stripped of its premises licence over issues around crime and serious violence is continuing to trade.
Last month, The Loft, based in Woolton Village, had its licence to operate revoked after Merseyside Police raised serious concerns about a string of violent incidents in and around the premises over the last few years.
However, in a defiant statement, the owners of the venue have said it remains “very much open for business” and questioned the legitimacy of statements used by Liverpool Council to determine its fate.
The bar, owned by Engin Yilmaz, said in its statement it “continues to enjoy overwhelming support” despite the issues raised at the Town Hall in August.
A five-hour hearing at Liverpool Town Hall ended dramatically as the council’s licensing chair told the venue’s bosses that her committee had ‘no confidence’ they could rectify the problems raised by councillors and police before removing its licence.
During the hearing, Merseyside Police’s head of licensing Sergeant Craig Carmichael detailed a long list of violent incidents in 2022 and 2023 linked to the Allerton Road premises – including several involving people carrying knives.
In a lengthy statement five weeks on from the Town Hall decision, the bar’s representatives said, “On behalf of all of the team at The Loft, we wish to reassure everyone in the local community that, including valued clients and nearby neighbours, that we remain committed to ensuring that everyone who visits the venue does so in safety and comfort, and that all of our hardworking staff are there to provide an atmosphere which promotes having a day or evening out where they can enjoy themselves in a secure environment. After a recent hearing to discuss the future operation of The Loft, at the time of the discussions The Loft had 100 representations put forward to support the premises, including neighbours who live directly opposite the location.
“However, this number was whittled down to 45 for the hearing by the local authority due to what they called ‘administrative issues.’ These representations in The Loft’s favour seem to have been given little or no weight by the Licensing Sub Committee, yet the representations given against The Loft, just five in number including a local councillor, seemed to be given far more prominence and weight than the substantial support that we offered in our favour.”
The statement said the venue continues to employ more than a dozen staff and its management team look forward to progressing with the business. Officials said they have implemented changes suggested by Merseyside Police, in lieu of closure, and the findings of a report by Clubsafe.
It added, “Like all of the nighttime sectors in the city region, we do not operate in a vacuum and we must always be aware of anti-social behaviours which remain a concern for all bars and restaurants. It is the job of the venue going forward to continue to be mindful of the issues at hand, and to be proactive in the measures taken to promote security, safety and respect.”
Revoking the licence last month, committee chair Cllr Christine Banks said, “It is clear that these premises have become a focus of crime and disorder and that very poor management is a central reason why this has occurred. The licence is therefore revoked for the prevention of crime and disorder.”
Despite this, the management used the statement to say they wish to promote The Loft as a “safe haven for everyone who walks through their doors.” It added: “The team look forward to a continued, open, two-way discourse to continue to ensure that The Loft sets the standard in being a safe haven not just for clients, but also within the community it operates within.”
The LDRS contacted Liverpool Council for comment.