JOYFUL scenes unfolded outside a courtroom after a club was refused a late drinks licence following a marathon six-hour hearing at Hyndburn Magistrates Court.
Residents opposed to the application by the Oaklea Club in Whalley Road, Accrington, hugged each other when they crowded into the foyer after licensing magistrates rejected the application.
They had expressed their fears about living close to the club if the application to keep drinks flowing on Fridays and Saturdays until 12.30am was granted.
It now means the Oaklea can only serve drinks until 11pm, even though it has already been granted a public entertainment licence to allow music and cabaret acts until 12.30am on those nights. Wednesday's hearing began at 2pm and finished shortly after 8pm.
Seven residents took the stand, as well as a member of the club's staff, an electrical consultant, noise level expert and a weekend regular.
Residents expressed various concerns, ranging from taxis sounding their horns late at night, to loud music emanating from the club. And to help them fight their corner, they enlisted the help of a top barrister from Manchester.
The court heard the club had installed a sound level device which cuts out the music if it gets too loud downstairs, fitted secondary double glazing and placed material over the ventilators to reduce noise levels.
There were no police objections, although this view was contested by residents who said the local Post Office had had its windows smashed around the same time as people were leaving the club.
The club's joint owner Paul Humphries told the Bench he had not received any complaints about noise. However Mrs Maureen Shaw, of Claremont Road, revealed she had telephoned the club to complain about the noise last summer and the woman who answered could not hear her because the sound was so loud.
Mr Brian McGowan, who has lived opposite the club for 18 years, said: "There would have been no chance of people drinking up on time if they had got this licence.
His wife Margaret, a relief stewardess said: "It's just horrendous. Once, I got back from work and people were fighting outside. Taxis and mini-buses were beeping their horns."
Magistrate Bernard Holden said: "The committee has decided that to extend the hours would further extend problems for the residents and that can't be justified."
Speaking afterwards Peter Shaw, of Claremont Road, said: "It's just a sign of common sense for people's quality of life in a residential area."