Devizes nightclub initiates entry cut-off time

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Inspector Matthew Armstrong with bar manager Ben Newport and Ian Matthews who runs the disco Inspector Matthew Armstrong with bar manager Ben Newport and Ian Matthews who runs the disco

The bar manager at the Corn Exchange has agreed to bring forward the entry time for customers to help police crack down on violence in Devizes town centre.

Starting from Saturday the last time people can enter the Corn Exchange will be 1am, instead of 2am. There is no change to the licensing hours of the nightclub, which is 3am.

The change follows that made by The Crown in New Park Street which stopped customers entering after midnight.

Both venues are often associated with violent incidents and disorder which occur in the town centre, mainly because they have late licences.

Inspector Matthew Armstrong, commander of Devizes Police, told a meeting of the town council’s community and civic resources committee that there had been an increase in reports of violent crime.

He said a lot of the incidents happened in private homes but the perception among the public was that there was a big problem on the streets of the town.

He said: “There is very little late night disorder in Devizes. People very quickly associate disorder with venues open late into the night but the reality is far removed and I would not associate a connection between the Corn Exchange and The Crown with violence and disorder without evidence.”

However in a bid to make the town even safer the town council, which runs the Corn Exchange, and its bar franchisee Stan Kelman, have agreed to change the entry time for a trial period.

Carole Berry, direct services manager for the town council, it was hoped the time change would give staff more control of customers entering and leaving and would perhaps make the Market Place quieter.

The nightclub, which is held in the Merchant’s Suite in the basement of the Corn Exchange, has a capacity of about 300 and is open usually on the first and last Friday of the month and most Saturday nights.

Mr Kelman, who has run the bar at the Corn Exchange for nine years, said: “The change to the last entry is being done on a trial basis working with the police to see how it goes. We run a tight ship and we want to do a good job.

"I think 1am will be good once people are educated about it and realise the new time. The Saturday before last we had 90 customers entering between 1am and 1.30am.”

Insp Armstrong added: “Both venues take their responsibilities seriously and have shown willing in a partnership approach to ensure any instances of disorder are minimal.”

He said since The Crown changed its entry time the police had received no reports of disorder emanating from it, whereas last year there were weekly reports.

In January police were called to a fight involving up to 20 people outside the Corn Exchange, in which a young woman was pushed to the ground. One person was arrested at the scene.

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