A NIGHTCLUB owner has threatened to pull out of Accrington for good after thieves and vandals caused £200,000 worth of damage to the building.

Mick Cookson said he feels "demoralised and dejected" after thugs repeatedly targeted Opium on Willow Street.

Mr Cookson, 45, was forced to close the club in December 2004 after it was hit by fire.

He is still awaiting the outcome of an insurance claim but in the meantime he has been left thousands of pounds out of pocket.

The roof tiles were stolen by an organised gang who cordoned off the site and put up signs claiming they were workmen.

In the process, they completely wrecked the roof which has resulted in all three floors of the club being flooded after recent heavy downpours.

Mr Cookson said: "If anyone saw the inside of it now they wouldn't believe it, this is just mindless vandalism.

"If I had any thoughts of coming back into Accrington and re-opening, I have now lost interest because the vandals have caused so much damage.

"We were not allowed to move any equipment out by the insurance company and last week two men were seen wheeling away two speakers in shopping trolleys.

"We had the best sound system in the area, worth about £1M, and people have just come in and wrecked it. It's not even like they have a reason to do this. They have ripped cabinets off the walls and thrown paper everywhere. These things are of no value to them."

Mr Cookson, who has been involved in the nightclub industry for 25 years, said that he has resorted to having a 24-hour security guard on site to prevent any further damage.

He added that unless he received great support from the public he might never re-open the club.

He said: "It was a very popular club at the time but a relatively small fire has turned into a nightmare. I've had enough, this is making me ill.

"I came to Accrington to give the town something different which I achieved. I do want to come back but this is the last straw. I need support and unless I get the help I need, I will not re-open Opium.

"I am very passionate about my business and I have spent about £2M on this club. I don't even know how to describe these people - it's unbelievable."

A police spokesman confirmed that there had been a number of reported incidents at the building.

  • ACCRINGTON'S best-known nightclub, Lar-de-dars, closed earlier this month after going bust, leaving only the recently-opened Industry club on Church Street.