Bloom: Manchester nightclub shut down following allegations teenage boy raped woman in toilet cubicle

The city’s licensing committee said they had no confidence in the premises’ ability to prevent crime and disorder.

A city centre nightclub where a 14-year-old boy is alleged to have raped a woman just days after another serious attack was reported has been shut down.

Bloom, in Manchester’s Gay Village, has had its licence revoked after a town hall committee heard ‘shocking’ evidence from GMP including details of 38 violent or sexual offences at the venue this year.

The club’s licence was suspended at the beginning of the month, when police ordered a summary review following the alleged rape in the venue’s toilets on 29 June. 

The suspension was upheld at a further hearing on 20 July, with councillors noting CCTV footage suggested a ‘level of familiarity’ between the teenager and staff at the Bloom Street venue.

Nightclub Bloom in Bloom Street, Manchester. Pictured in September 2021. Credit: Google

Since then it has come to light that a non-binary person had also allegedly been raped in the toilets just 12 days prior, while there has been a catalogue of violence, threats and ‘sexual-type crimes’ since August 2021.

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Parent company Lapwine, which holds the licence, told the hearing it had overhauled security and ramped up management supervision in response to recent incidents.

But the licensing panel said it had no confidence parent company Lapwine Ltd would be able to manage the premises in a way that would prevent crime and disorder and ensure public safety.

Barbara Gora, legal adviser to the three-strong panel, said the councillors had ‘looked carefully at the numerous incidents’ at the club over the last year – some of which were relatively minor and included some crimes against door staff.

But she added: “That did leave a number of very serious incidents which occurred at the premises in the last year at which customers suffered physical injuries or sexual assaults as a result of attending at the premises.”

Lapwine’s pleas for leniency included that it had changed the firm that provides its door staff – but Ms Gora told the meeting that some of the most recent incidents had taken place since this happened.

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The panel was particularly concerned, she said, by allegations a member of security staff had ‘kicked and punched’ a customer on 22 June and reports of a rape in the male toilets on 17 June.

“The committee considered that nothing was done following those two serious incidents” – said Ms Gora, and this led to the alleged rape on 29 June, which triggered the review of the premises licence.

“The committee would expect a responsible operator to have taken some action earlier when seeing reports of these serious incidents.”

Ms Gora said the panel had also noted that the same door company and designated premises supervisor (DPS) – responsible for the day-to-day running of the club – had remained in post following the incident on 29 June.

“The committee considers there has clearly been a history of incidents at the premises,” she said.

Despite Lapwine’s plan to appoint a new general manager and for senior managers to attend on a weekly basis, the committee had ‘no confidence’ this would lead to more effective management of the premises,”

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The failings at the premises on 29 June, she added, could be seen on CCTV and it was ‘clear to the committee’ that the teenage boy was known to the door staff and no other staff at the premises took any action to address ‘a clear breach of condition’.

The committee’s decision was in line with the recommendations from GMP and the council’s own licensing department – both of whom noted that the majority of trouble was caused after 4am by people arriving already intoxicated.

Margaret Lewis, of the council’s licensing and out-of-hours team, said: “They have not really done anything to address those types of issues. All the things they have offered is to do with another layer of management and not actually any steps to uphold the licensing objectives.”

PC Alan Isherwood agreed that what had been offered was not ‘sufficient’.

“Because of the unfortunate levels of intoxication of the clientele that go there, and because of the serious incidents that have occurred we believe the appropriate and necessary step would be to revoke the premises licence.”

Gerald Gouriet QC, representing Lapwine, admitted the events of 29 June had been a ‘catastrophic failure and a dereliction of duty’ on behalf of Bloom.

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But he pleaded for the venue to be given another chance, urging the panel to have trust and confidence in Lapwine and the new management and security arrangements it was proposing.

“That draconian final step need not be taken today and should only be taken today if you feel it is necessary – I suggest it isn’t.” he added.

However, the panel was not convinced, and also decided the suspension must stay in place – meaning Bloom cannot reopen during the 21-day period it has to appeal.

Manchester City Council’s licensing sub-committee panel met at the Town Hall Extension on Monday (July 25).

The decision has been welcomed by Phil Burke, chair of the Village Licensed Business Assocation.

He said: “I fully support the decision today by the authorities to shut down Bloom Night Club  due to the  appalling incidents and failing  listed todays at the licensing hearing 

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“There is no place in Manchester city centre for a venue like to operate with totally disregard for both the safety of their patrons and the law. This is completely unacceptable .

The Village License Business Association works closely with GMP and Manchester city  ouncil and continue to do so to ensure safety to all out patrons across the city centre is paramount in all our venues 

Manchester Gay Village prides itself as being one of the safest destinations locations to visit for a good night out for everyone and the great cosmopolitan feel.

“With many great venues with hard work professional staff  we take pride on making sure all our vistors to the village are safe and enjoy themselves and get home safety.”

Manchester City Council’s licensing sub-committee panel met at the Town Hall Extension on Monday (July 25)