A STALYBRIDGE bar has been allowed to stay open despite members of staff allegedly assaulting a customer.
And despite a litany of incidents at Back To The 80s being detailed, as well as councillors and senior officers calling for a full revocation of its licence, it can trade with reduced opening hours and conditions amended.
A meeting of Tameside Council’s Speaker’s Panel (Liquor Licensing) committee on Tuesday, November 7 heard the Market Street venue has been under review since an incident in the early hours of Monday, July 24.
And it was decided it can only sell alcohol between the hours of 9pm and 2am from Thursday to Saturday and from 9pm until midnight on a Sunday, opening until half an hour later.
One member of door staff must be present between 9pm and 11pm, rising to three until 20 minutes after the bar closes.
The Personal Licence Holder and/or the Designated Premises Supervisor must also be on the premises at all times licensable activities are taking place.
Despite no charges yet being levelled by Greater Manchester Police, which is still investigating, it was claimed a member of bar staff and an off-duty member of door staff- since sacked – left the venue and assaulted the customer, who had been ejected, close to the premises.
The panel was told how one kicked him to the floor and was then seen on CCTV to, ‘hold him down while the other proceeds to kick and stamp on the victim’s head,’ resulting in a deep gash to the nose and facial injuries.
Documents added: “A member of door staff who was on duty at the time of the assault came out from the premises after the attack and called an ambulance, however this individual was uncooperative with the police upon arrival.
“Upon reviewing the CCTV footage, it was clear that door staff working at the premises had not taken appropriate measures to prevent this incident from occurring.
“The CCTV footage shows the door staff lying down, smoking and drinking.”
The meeting was issued with a log of more than 50 incidents relating to Back To The 80s.
Others listed described a man having part of his ear bitten off on November 21, 2021 and on June 2, 2022, an alleged section 18 assault involving a knuckle duster, with the offender then remaining in the bar and finishing his drink.
A statement from Inspector John Cesarz, of Greater Manchester Police, said: “There are frequently issues at the premises around closing time particularly on Saturdays and Sundays.
“These include customers causing issues, drugs being located, issues with door staff in relation to dealing with customers.”
Police and licensing officers met with Back To The 80s’ licensee, Ian Whittaker – who also owns Zero’s Bar.
But Tameside Council’s regulatory compliance officer, James Horton, said: “The licensing authority has lost faith in the ability of the management of the premises to promote the licensing objectives and therefore I recommend that the premises licence be revoked.”
His view was backed by Stalybridge North Councillors Jan Jackson, Adrian Pearce and Christine Beardmore, who said in a joint statement: “The attack does not appear to be an isolated incident.
“This is not the first issue regarding safety relating to the owner of this bar.
“Only a few months back, Zero’s bar was closed by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service for a breach of fire safety regulations.
“Unfortunately, there does seem to be a pattern emerging in terms of the owner’s disregard for rules and regulations.
“We are concerned about the image we wish to present for Stalybridge. Market Street is undergoing substantial development, with a view to improving the image of the area and put a distance from the past drinking culture.
“Late night drinking and thuggery does not fit in with this image. We as councillors would recommend that the licence is revoked.”
GMFRS also produced a scathing review of Mr Whittaker’s conduct around Zero’s, saying: “Mr Whittaker did not attend scheduled meetings and to gain access we had to eventually make arrangements with the then manager.
“Due to Mr Whittaker also being the licensee on other bars we have attempted to inspect them, one of the premises is Back To The 80s.
“As yet we have not been able to gain access. We attended the premises on the date we had formally informed Mr Whittaker of our intention to inspect along with colleagues from Tameside Council’s licensing team, however no-one from the premises arrived and we were unable to gain access.
“Subsequently we have attempted to contact Mr Whittaker via telephone leaving voicemail messages, but to date we have had no reply.”
Mr Whittaker told licensing chiefs reducing the hours to midnight on all nights would result in bankruptcy and would put him out of business.
He said: “All I’ve ever done for 15 years is to keep people safe. We do our utmost to stop people from causing trouble, we have doormen there to try and make sure it doesn’t happen, but you’re not going to stop this trouble.”
Solicitor Andrea Forrest added: “An individual who engages in anti-social behaviour is accountable in their own right. It’s not the fault of my client that two off duty members of staff take it on themselves to leave the premises, go down the street and become involved in a violent attack.
“It’s not acceptable behaviour by his staff and it’s proved by his remedial action that he won’t tolerate this kind of behaviour.
“He doesn’t want anything like this to happen anywhere in the streets, particularly not down the road from his venue.
“The behaviour of these people, it’s disgusting. My client is really sorry for what happened to the injured party.”