Calls to close down nightclub at centre of double rape probe in Manchester

More allegations have emerged about criminal activity on the premises.

<p>Nightclub Bloom in Bloom Street, Manchester. Pictured in September 2021. Credit: Google</p>

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

A Manchester city centre nightclub where a 14-year-old was accused of raping a woman in the toilets is facing calls for closure as further allegations emerge.

Gay Village club Bloom has been shut since the incident in the early hours of the morning on Wednesday, 29 June, and could soon be closed down for good.

It comes after police reveal 38 crimes were recorded at the premises over the last year, including another allegation of rape in the toilets just 12 days earlier.

According to the victim, whose account ‘appears to fit’ body cam footage, a bouncer knocked on the cubicle in which she was allegedly raped, but when he saw the teenage boy in there, he said, “Oh, it’s you. Carry on. Have a good one.”

CCTV footage shows the teenager, who did not present ID when entering the club, leaving the venue after the incident with the same security staff who let him in and are even shown ‘enjoying a cigarette’ together, according to a council report.

The club says it has removed the designated premises supervisor – who has day-to-day responsibility for the running of the club – and the security firm.

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But authorities have so far not been convinced that this will resolve the issue.

Now, reports published ahead of a licensing hearing on Monday (July 25) reveal there have been several violent and sexual crimes at the club in the last year.

This includes an incident less than two weeks earlier in which a non-binary person was allegedly forced into a toilet cubicle at the club and then made to perform oral sex before being raped, according to the police who identified and arrested the accused, although the allegations are still being investigated.

In May, a member of security staff allegedly broke a customer’s nose after kicking and punching him as he tried to split up a fight with another man, according to the evidence submitted by police ahead of the licensing hearing.

There have also been reports of security staff being assaulted by customers as well as fights breaking out in the club and homophobic comments made.

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In total, there have been 38 crimes recorded at the club over the last 12 months, including violence, threats and sexual crimes, according to police.

What have police said?

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has now called for the club’s licence to be revoked, saying it does not have confidence the operators can run it safely.

In a statement submitted for the summary licence review hearing, PC Alan Isherwood said: “GMP believe the premises unfortunately attracts some clientele who seek to cause harm and fear to others, and it has become a premises that many people gravitate towards when other premises they have been in for several hours have closed.

“This means that their levels of intoxication are often already very high when they go there and GMP believe that this contributes significantly to the issues arising there.

“Therefore, due to these serious concerns, GMP asks the committee to revoke the premises licence.”

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Licensing officers at Manchester city council supported GMP’s application to review Bloom’s premises licence, raising their own concerns about the club.

In a report published ahead of the licensing hearing on Monday (July 25), the Licensing Out of Hours Team shared complaints from members of the public.

One complaint refers to ‘countless times’ when straight men harass, offer drugs and ‘prey on girls’ at the club, while another, relating to an alleged assault, accuses the Gay Village club of cashing in on the ‘pink pound’.

Another complaint received from the public, calls for the club to be closed.

In an email, the complainant said: “It is vital that this organisation is shut down.

“It has brought nothing but distress and pain to the community.

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“Things need to change.

“You have the power to protect each individual who comes in and out of Manchester.

“Use that power.”

The club appealed the decision to temporarily suspend its licence pending a full review, but this request was refused at an interim steps hearing on July 13.

At the hearing, police presented CCTV footage from the venue which suggested that the 14-year-old boy was known to bouncers at the club.

Councillors said they did not believe that this was the first time the teenager, who was arrested but later released on bail, visited the venue in Bloom Street.

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In the latest council report about the incident, licensing officers said the boy was seen sparing with one of the door staff, with ‘very jovial ducking and diving’ reported minutes before he entered the toilets with the alleged victim.

What has Bloom said?

Bloom will have an opportunity to make its case to the licensing panel at the summary review hearing which takes place on Monday (July 25) at 10am.

A spokesperson for the club said: “It would be wrong to talk about this review while Hearings are still taking place.

“We take customer’s safety seriously; and we will continue to work with Greater Manchester Police and the Town Hall’s Licensing & Out of Hours Team as we have always done.”