Published: 08:15, 07 February 2018
A popular city centre night spot has been closed down by the council for "shocking" breaches of its premises licence.
It follows a lengthy investigation into Club Burrito where doormen were said to have been told not to do age ID checks or turn away drunks because the business was desperate for customers.
At a review hearing by the police, officials said owner Luciano Serrano had ‘no idea’ about licensing laws.
Police licensing officer Susan Ginever told the city council’s licensing panel that intelligence into underage drinking from Folkestone revealed teenagers as young as 15 and 16 were travelling to Canterbury because they could get into Club Burrito.
She said door supervisors from Akon Security working at the premises reported that Mr Serrano had told them not to do ID checks and overrode their decisions, including when one had refused entry to a drunk male.
"This is quite shocking, isn't it, and difficult to take in because it’s the complete opposite of everything you would require a door supervisor to do. It is undermining the licensing objectives," she said.
The evidence against the Mexican-themed Club Burrito included statements from door supervisors Ian Clancy, Reece Thompson and Gareth Pears who recorded examples of Mr Serrano’s interference in their work.
Mr Clancy told the panel: “I have never experienced it from an owner before and felt I was wasting my time.”
Mr Thompson said he felt "massively uncomfortable" with what Mr Serrano had told him.
Mr Serrano flatly denied he had ever given instructions to his doormen not to check ID or allow in drunk customers, calling them "completely false".
Council licensing officer Trevor Smith said one late night visit to the bar found loud music blaring into the High Street, no checks on people going in, no door security, the narrow street crowded with drinkers and people walking off with glasses.
Young people under 18 were also seen drinking upstairs but "scarpered" at the sight of officials
But he said that when spoken to about the issues, Mr Serrano “could not see a problem.”
On all the visits, the dedicated premises supervisor, Ruth Linklater was not present, he said.
"Mr Serrano has no idea about the Licensing Act or the licensing objectives. He is very argumentative and thinks he can run the club in any way he wishes and will not listen to good advice," he said.
But Mr Serrano denied many of the claims, saying other an other neighbouring business was noisier and he wanted to know why it had not been challenged by licensing officers.
The licensing panel, chaired by Cllr Ashley Clark, decided to revoke the premises licence meaning the business will have to successfully reapply before it can re-open.
After the hearing Cllr Clark said the evidence against the bar was very credible and the club had ignored advice and warnings.
"We had no alternative but to take tough action" - Cllr Ashley Clark
“We had no alternative but to take tough action," he said.
After the hearing Ruth Linklater, who is the joint owner of Club Burrito with Mr Serrano, said they were bitterly disappointed by the decision.
"We have poured our heart, soul and a lot of money into the business so this is a big blow and I really don’t know where we will go from here," she said.
"It will also have an impact on all the suppliers, musicians and loyal customers who have supported us, who we thank."
She said: “We still say some of the allegations against us were not true. We are certainly not fly by nights trying it on, but spent a long time setting up the business with a vision to create a unique hub in Canterbury.
"But the hospitality business is tough and obviously, we have come a cropper.
"We now have to sit down and have a long think about whether the vision of Club Burrito can return in some form."
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