Manchester's Co-op Live makes series of changes after backlash from police and council

A licensing meeting will take place at 10am on February 21
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Bosses at Manchester’s mew 23,500-person capacity, £365m arena have made a series of changes to the operation after a backlash from councillors, licensing teams and the police.

Co-op Live is set to open opposite Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium in the next few months. It is currently applying for a licence from the council.

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A report into that bid has revealed concerns raised by GMP and other organisations.

Police said ‘there are no counter terrorism plans/contingency plans/major incident plans which are currently available to scrutinise’.

The representation from GMP added in the report: “So any decision as to their effectiveness/robustness/scope cannot be made at this stage, and GMP would want to have sight of these before any approval for grant of the licence could be considered.”

The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands that the venue has drawn up security plans, but these were not shared with the force before it wrote its submission. GMP also took issue with the ‘virtually non-existent’ public transport network at the initially-proposed closing time of 5am, and a lack of detail on the kinds of events that could ‘run for as long and as late as they wished’.

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Previously, councillors in three neighbouring wards slammed the venue’s bid to open until 5am and serve alcohol until 4am for ‘Co-op Live events’, but stay open and serve booze 24/7 for ‘Non-Co-op Live events’. They feared revellers would create havoc for nearby residents, some of whom only live 100m from the arena — with licensing out-of-hours officers believing an early-morning finish ‘could cause a nuisance’.

But following a series of changes made by the venue, it is understood some councillors have withdrawn their objections. Those changes have been revealed in a presentation submitted to the crunch licensing meeting on Wednesday (February 21).

The key alteration made by Co-op Live is a curtailing of its opening hours. Events in the main auditorium bowl will finish by 11.30pm, with it being completely closed by midnight.

Ancillary space activities will be allowed to go on after a bowl event, or on a non-bowl event day with a reduced capacity, the arena says. These spaces will be used until 1am midweek, and until 2am on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays before a Bank Holiday — with them being completely closed in every case half an hour later.

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These hours are comparable to neighbours Manchester City, Co-op Live argues in its presentation, which can open its main arena until midnight, and operate its auxiliary/hospitality spaces until 1am, and close them completely at 1.30am.

Co-op Live is due to open in April Co-op Live is due to open in April
Co-op Live is due to open in April

With reduced hours, the new arena says that 31 per cent of the 23,500 visitors on a sold-out event day will leave via the tram or a shuttle bus in a ‘worst case scenario’. Around 39pc will leave via car, it believes, with 14pc expected to walk or get the train.

The proportion of people using a tram or shuttle bus will only increase for ‘ancillary events’ where capacity is limited to 6,000, it adds, meaning only 24 percent of guests will leave by car – again, in a ‘worst case’ scenario.

To help manage egress, stewards will be positioned on key walking routes near the venue, the presentation adds. That, combined with a diary of events to be given to its neighbours and a dedicated phone number and online portal to make complaints, will help quell residents’ fears, it goes on.

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Security is also addressed in the venue’s submissions, which suggests it will provide a ‘full security and event risk assessment’, restrict vehicular movements nearby, protect pedestrians with access design, and be ‘compliant with Martyn’s Law’. That section of the presentation adds there will be airport-standard security, a no-bag policy, a dedicated 24-hour security team, and the latest CCTV tech on-site.

That falls alongside ‘actively engaging’ with police forces, counter-terror units, and other emergency services. A spokesperson for Co-op Live said it was ‘pleased’ to make revisions.

A statement added: “It’s normal for questions and comments to come up during the licensing process. We’ve enjoyed working openly and collaboratively with all of our stakeholders in Manchester to answer their questions, and we’ve been pleased to make changes based on the feedback we’ve received.”