Brentwood bar loses licence after high street chaos

A Brentwood bar has had its licence revoked after an under 18 event descended into such chaos that the town’s high street was closed down for well over an hour.

Around 40 police units were called in to deal with the situation after reports of fighting outside Pink when people were turned away at the venue’s door because it was already full.

The event, which was described as a “rave” on flyers was held on April 11. Tickets were sold online before the event, but more tickets were then sold on the door, according to council documents.

This meant that the bar was full before the arrival of all the pre-booked ticket holders, who appeared to have paid as much as £18 each according to the event’s website.

It’s alleged that fights then started to break out in the high street causing “significant disruption to the road”.

David Wilcox, a business partner of Pink, told the Brentwood licensing committee last week that the business had already been struggling and he and his business partner Conor Latham, the designated licence holder, saw using the premises for under-18 events as an opportunity to stay afloat.

Pink had already seen additional conditions placed on its licence – including having three supervisors at the door- following a review in November last year over previous concerns of disorder. Pink had voluntarily relinquished the licence prior to the review.

The meeting heard that the overselling of tickets by event organisers – all aged between 16 and 18 – led to anger which then turned to panic when it is alleged someone brandished a weapon.

The committee heard that it was at this point that Pink cancelled the event and ejected everyone inside causing even more people to spill out into the High Street.

This resulted in officers having to close the High Street from Wilson’s Corner to Kings Road for around 45 minutes – in addition to the road already being effectively closed by the crowd for around 30 minutes beforehand.

Mr Wilcox said: “This came to our door and we got desperate. We were desperate to keep the doors open and pay the rent. and we took it.

“We did about eight or nine [events] and they went so smoothly. There was no trouble and not one complaint.

“At least one victim has come forward so far to allege an assault from this incident. This is subject to an ongoing criminal investigation.”

Essex Police’s licensing officer, Simon Barnes, said the current licence was not fit for purpose.

He said: “The key points I would draw to the attention of the committee is the fact of the incompetent decision to allow under 18s to have significant control of the door, by having control of the ticket numbers and therefore resulting in the situation where overselling had occurred.

“There was no attempt to control the queue leaving children to decide how to create a queue which resulted in quite a few occasions encroaching on the road, and that is before the incident.

“The incident itself is due to that overselling which leads back to the incompetent management.

“And when the weapon was seen and was being displayed causing panic in the crowd a decision was made to secure the end of the event and eject the children out into this situation that could have been quite significant.”

Lawyer Sam Haldane speaking on behalf of the council said the incident resulted from the licence holder’s “poor management” of the premises and entrusting it to “young event managers”.

He said: “The committee considered this shows a serious lapse of judgement on the licence holder’s part and it called in question its ability to properly manage the licence premises.”

A dispersal order was placed on Brentwood town centre until 6am on April 12, to reduce the risk of violent behaviour in the area and to protect residents and businesses nearby. A 16-year-old boy was arrested and has been charged with possession of an offensive weapon.

Officers who attended the scene confirmed no one was injured and no injuries were reported during the incident.

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter