A DRAMATIC raid on a troubled nightspot has led to it being closed down under new anti-social behaviour laws.
The closure notice, which is the first in the country for commercial premises, was taken out against Monroes nightclub in Great Harwood, following the high-profile raid involving 200 officers at the weekend.
And, police chief Inspector John O'Reilly has vowed the Wood Street club will NEVER be allowed to re-open now the three-month Closure of Premises Order is in place.
Two Samurai swords and CS gas canisters were seized during the Sunday morning operation along with large quantities of Ecstasy pills, amphetamines and cannabis resin.
Over 200 clubbers were searched and seven people, including owner Anthony Jackson, 59, were arrested for a range of drugs and weapons-related offences.
Mr Jackson, of Padiham Road, Sabden, appeared before Hyndburn magistrates on Monday, when the closure order was formally made by the Chief Constable of Lancashire, Paul Stephenson.
Miss Niamh Noone, representing Lancashire Constabulary, presented statements from police, residents and councillors in support of the application, which was not opposed by Mr Jackson.
The Bench said it was satisfied that all three criteria for the order had been met.
- The club had been used in connection with the unlawful use, production or supply of class A drugs.
- It was associated with disorder or serious nuisance to the public.
- Closure was necessary to prevent further disorder.
Speaking after the hearing, Inspector O'Reilly said that three months was the maximum amount of time such an order could be made at a first hearing, but they would re-apply for another order once this one had expired.
He said: "Over the last 18 months we have been gathering intelligence and carrying out a number of operations in relation to Monroe's."
"During these operations, we have stopped and searched approximately 1,600 people and arrested 85. A large proportion of these people had a criminal background."
"We have had people in there undercover, and intelligence has shown that there has been supplying of class A drugs. We have also proved that in the last three months there have been incidents of disorder and serious nuisance."
"This new legislation has given us the opportunity to close the club. Prior to that, Mr Jackson had always maintained he was running it as a private members club even though it is quite clear it has never been run as such."
Inspector O'Reilly also paid tribute to PC Helen Jackson, community beat manager for Great Harwood, whose work helped to secure the closure.
He added: "The club has closed for good. Residents have been waiting for this to happen, not just for the last 18 months but for the last 12 years."
A total of 10 stop and search operations were carried out in the vicinity of the club last year and police seized drugs and weapons such as hammers, baseball bats, a police baton and small knives.
Detective Chief Inspector Neil Smith, of Lancashire Constabulary, said: "This operation and those carried out previously have been run in response to complaints from local residents regarding late-night activity around Monroe's."
"We had previously tried to work closely with the owner of the club and our intention has always been to ensure the safety of those people attending."
"The objective of the latest operation was to secure and preserve evidence to support a prosecution for offences committed by the management, employees and members of the club."
"We want to reassure the public that criminal activity associated with the club will not, and has not, been tolerated."
- Mr Jackson also appeared before Hyndburn magistrates on Monday charged with two criminal offences in relation to the club.
He is accused of permitting his premises to be used in the supply of class A drugs and being concerned in the organisation of entertainment without a public entertainments licence.
He was remanded in custody after bail was refused. He is due to appear again before the court by video link on Thursday.