No support for borough's bid to speed closure of problem clubs

Chris Fogarty reports

The attempt by London's Wandsworth Borough Council to have the licensing laws changed so that nightclubs linked with illegal activity are quickly closed, has failed to win the support of other London councils.

Wandsworth assistant borough solicitor Sally Novell said clubs where illegal activities were occurring remained open while protracted legal action took place.

Novell said one club, with problems including drug dealing, had its operating licence renewal refused by the council last May. But, after licence hearings and appeals in the magistrates and crown court, it will be well into next year before the issue is resolved.

"I think there is public concern about how a place can continue to operate when there are a number of well publicised problems," said Novell.

Wandsworth recently sought the support of other London councils to petition the Government to prevent nightclubs extending legal proceedings while continuing to operate, but Novell said there was little enthusiasm for the plan.

The council is now pinning its hopes on a private members bill from Conservative MP Barry Legg, which aims to give councils extra powers to close clubs where the law is broken.