Imperial boss speaks out over bar’s closure

The Imperial Club on Ormskirk Street, St Helens
The Imperial Club on Ormskirk Street, St Helens

BOSSES at the under-fire St Helens nightspot where Saints star Sia Soliola was assaulted have spoken for the first time about the club’s enforced closure.

In a statement released through his owner, Imperial owner Tony Pitts thanks St Helens Council for their help during the club’s recent troubles.

Sia Soliola

Sia Soliola

The Ormskirk Street bar was closed following the late-night attack Soliola and police concerns about the level of violence at the club.

And at a meeting last week, the Imperial’s licence was suspended for a month with a string of tough conditions attached to its re-opening.

In a statement released through Mr Pitts’ lawyers said: “The Imperial Bar through both its management and staff wish to thank the licensing sub-committee of St Helens Council for the diligence and patience shown in reaching their determination within a challenging review process.

“The Imperial is looking forward to reopening in the near future and remains committed to maintaining a strong working relationship with Merseyside Police and St Helens Council as a foundation to providing a safe high class facility for the people of St Helens.

“The management would also like to thank the many customers and trading partners who provided valuable support to the premises during the review process.”

In theory, the Ormskirk Street bar could now reopen because bosses have 21 days to appeal against the decision BEFORE the suspension is activated.

However committee chiefs ruled that licence holder Ian Pitts must first provide evidence that a string of strict conditions have been met. Firstly, the designated premises supervisor must be removed from the licence and the existing door security company replaced.

A bouncer must be located at the top of the stairs and at the entrance to the bar at all opening times after 11pm and the new premises supervisor must meet weekly with door staff to discuss the management of the bar.

Committee chiefs also ordered the new premises supervisor to hold three monthly meetings with the police’s licensing unit and stated that no glassware should be taken into the stairwells of the bar. Both Ian Pitts and the police attended last week’s four-hour hearing to give evidence following a police application to shut the bar because of its association with “serious violent crime and disorder”.

The application was sparked following an incident at the bar in the early hours of March 12, which left Saints star Sia Soliola nursing “serious facial injuries”.

As well as verbal evidence from both sides, the sub committee was also asked to consider a large number of letters in support of the bar and Mr Pitts.

* Three bouncers were arrested on suspicion of assault and violent disorder in the early hours of March 12. They were subsequently bailed pending further inquiries.