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Bottles and glasses banned from balconies at Skegness venue

By East Lindsey Target  |  Posted: September 11, 2012

Grand Central

Grand Central, part of the Promenade Leisure complex, in Skegness. Picture: Google StreetView

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A POPULAR Skegness entertainments venue has been told to ban its customers from taking either bottles or glasses on to any of its balconies.

A further order has been imposed requiring Grand Central, part of the Promenade Leisure complex, to install netting where necessary to prevent objects being thrown and landing on pedestrians walking along Grand Parade.

The tough line has been imposed by an East Lindsey District Council licensing sub-committee after its members heard police outline concerns about "risks" to the public.

At the hearing, police licensing inspector Rod Rose and PC Ian Figgitt pinpointed specific incidents where colleagues had reported instances of items – including cigarette butts and plastic glasses – being thrown.

In one instance, an anonymous female motorist complained that she had taken avoiding action after a plastic jug landed on the road in front of her car.

According to PC Figgitt, she "strongly believed" this had been thrown by one of a group of men on the first-floor balcony.

Insp Rose expressed concern that the butts of some cigarettes bought from overseas were not self-extinguishing, and there could be a fire danger – for instance, if one should accidentally land on bedding in a child's pushchair.

The police duo brought with them CCTV footage which purported to display misdemeanours being committed – though the images were mostly so indistinct that it was difficult for the sub-committee to establish what, if anything, had been thrown or where it landed.

Sub-committee chairman Councillor George Horton said that, with one of the clips, it had proven impossible – at least to his eyes – to see anything being thrown at all.

The police evidence was challenged by Grand Central licensee Gary Bangham who emphasised his commitment to public safety and queried why officers had not intervened if the incidents had been as serious as they were alleging.

He told the hearing: "Nine hundred and ninety-nine percent of my customers are fantastic people, but you can't legislate for the one lunatic. If that were the case, the sale of kitchen knives would be banned in case of one being sold to a would-be murderer."

Mr Bangham was represented by Michael Kheng who argued that some of the "evidence" was either non-existent or so negligible as to have been worthy of no more than a line or two in a notebook.

He went on to identify numerous other licensed premises on Skegness foreshore where balconies were used with no restrictions, adding that there was no more risk of objects being thrown from them than from the upper floor of an open-top bus.

He argued that imposing blanket restrictions would be disproportionate because Grand Central "is a multi-function venue" which also hosts events such as christenings which are very different from congregations of football fans.

After deliberating privately for 45 minutes, the sub-committee, which also included Councillor Jean Bradley and Councillor Sandra Campbell-Wardman, ruled that any drinks taken on to the balconies must be in plastic containers and that balcony access will be only permitted up to 11pm at the latest and only after completion of a "risk assessment" to establish whether a supervisor might be needed.

The chairman concluded with a stern warning that any recurrence of incidents of misconduct might have adverse implications for the licence.

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