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Rangers sweat on licence application decision

A violence-hit sports club is expected to learn today if the Liquor Licensing Authority has approved its application to keep selling alcohol.

Representatives from Southampton Rangers Sports Club claimed that its executive took steps to curb antisocial behaviour and was focused on community activities.

However, during a hearing of more than five hours with the LLA yesterday, police raised concerns about some of the club's patrons — whom they said had gang links — and its security cameras.

Shannon Dyer, a senior associate at Walkers Bermuda appearing on behalf of the club, said that for the past 55 years the venue had never been refused a liquor licence or imposed with conditions.

He explained: “We really want to highlight that it's more than just a bar; it's a very thriving and active community club.”

Mr Dyer said that over the past two years, 13 people had been served with ban letters.

He told the hearing that activities hosted by the club included a weekly seniors' night, a Good Friday family fun day, a children's Christmas party and a back-to-school event.

Mr Dyer said: “This all has to get paid in some way and I think the problem is the impact of losing their liquor licence would just be fundamentally drastic and not proportionate with the steps they've taken to try to address the issues the club is currently being faced with.”

He added that at a liquor licensing hearing last year it was recommended that the club banned troublemakers, kept working with police and security firms and closed earlier on Sundays, all of which had happened.

Marc Daniels, the new LLA chairman, said the board had received a list of 21 serious incidents at Southampton Rangers dated from June 2017 to April 7, this year.

He pointed out that they covered a range of times and days of the week.

However, Jason Wade, the club's president, said: “I can appreciate that Southampton Rangers has incidents but if we're going to be clear on these incidents, I feel that some of those were put in there to add weight to the submission.”

He also said that in response to previous recommendations from the police, the club had added new fencing and a system of 16 security cameras, although Mr Wade admitted one did not work.

The president said the club's future activities were expected to include a programme to help young people with employment résumés.

He added: “It would be remiss of me not to bring up that we have two vibrant local sports that we play at the club and those teams consist of a lot of young players who are future influential members of our community.”

Brian Myrie, from the Attorney-General's Chambers acting on behalf of the police, said: “The police do not want to see the club closed.

“However, public safety must be the police's primary concern.”

He claimed the club had not done everything in its power to stem antisocial incidents.

Detective Constable Courtney Simmons explained that she tried to access CCTV camera footage from Southampton Rangers the day after a reported assault in 2017 but that any images from the time of the incident were already cleared.

Mr Wade said footage was now kept for ten days.

Constable Simmons said that footage from earlier this year was “fuzzy” and that filming of part of the club's bar area was blocked by a wall.

Acting Inspector Alex Rollin pointed out that Southampton Rangers did not “promote itself as a club house for a gang” but it was known that some individuals who drank there who had “enveloped themselves in a gang lifestyle”.

He added later: “People that are attending the club are known gang members and their associates are attending the club with them, and sometimes their associates are from rival gangs.”

Ms Myrie said that licence conditions agreed by both the police and the club were that alcohol would be sold only in plastic cups and that all events would be staffed by security officers.

The lawyer added that stipulations proposed by the police, which were not agreed by Southampton Rangers, included the restriction of alcohol sales to match days.

He said the club also disagreed with introducing a “beer and wine only” policy, but there was “flexibility” from the police on that suggestion.

Mr Daniels said a decision would be issued in writing today.

Southampton Rangers Sports Club (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published May 31, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated May 31, 2019 at 4:01 pm)

Rangers sweat on licence application decision

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