St Albans club licence restored after year of anti-social behaviour

Waverley Sports and Social Club .

Waverley Sports and Social Club . - Credit: Archant

Accusations of “drug dealing, drug taking and drunken, aggressive, abusive members” focused on a St Albans social club did not prevent the venue from having its licence restored.

The Waverley Sports and Social Club (WSSC) had their Club Premises Certificate revoked in October last year after Herts Police received complaints from neighbours and video evidence of a staff member drug dealing outside the premises in broad daylight was produced.

Neighbours were frightened to walk past the club for fear they would tread on drug paraphernalia on the pavement or be verbally attacked.

It was also reported the former manager, John Collarbone, had a relationship with the people causing anti-social behaviour.

The club re-applied for their licence in January, but the sergeant at Hemel Hempstead Police Station, Michael Saunders, recommended that it was not approved.

He said: “I am concerned that if the premises licence is granted, that Mr Collarbone will continue to have an influential effect on the committee and its members at the WSSC and therefore there is an increased risk that the criminal activity and antisocial behaviour will continue.”

Since the application was submitted, Sgt Saunders reported that Mr Collarbone’s contact details have been on a poster and he had been seen in the club “on a daily basis”.

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Disgruntled neighbours also voiced concerns: “Noise, disorder and litter are constant reality that we have had to live with when the club is open.

“This is ongoing and at varying levels. It ranging from late-night traffic, loud conversation, swearing and shouting whilst waiting transportation, through to the more serious incidents outlined.”

Another resident agreed: “Throughout most of last year, the social club was rife with drug dealing, drug taking and drunken, aggressive, abusive members.

“Gangs of members would regularly congregate outside, playing music, shouting profanities, throwing glasses and bottles and taking drugs. If challenged, they would scream abuse.”

The neighbour said they saw drunk people leave the club and drive their cars away.

Another resident asked what was being done: “Whilst this might not be people who are members of the club, it doesn’t feel like the club has done enough to stop this activity.”

Adding: “We don’t like the idea of our children stumbling across this type of activity - or potentially there being drug taking detritus in the vicinity.”

The licence was approved at St Albans district council (SADC)’s licensing sub-committee last week.

Cllr Geoffrey Harrison, a member of the sub-committee, stressed problems have been isolated to the last year: “Everyone thought that the club should continue, it has been a valuable asset to the community for some years and it has only been these last 12 months it’s gone off the rails - but we believe that the people who took it off the rails have been put out of the way.”

He said they deserved a second chance.

“The council and the police can review that licence at anytime in the future, it’s very much a ‘if you step over the line again you will be trouble’ and if they do I don’t think they would get it back again.”

Peter James Gavin is the new licence holder and there are a number of conditions to the approval - including CCTV, a full-time steward overseeing the running of the club, drinks only inside, an up-to-date guestbook is kept, music should not disturb neighbours, and people under 18 should be with an adult.

Club secretary for 35 years, Joe Small, said he was “pleased and quite relieved”: “We are preparing now for opening, we have put up notices and we will not be opening late in the evening, we will be keeping the residents informed if there will be any functions so they are aware and the members will not be using the car park for smoking.

“We will do our utmost to make sure nothing like that happens again and we will be monitoring the situation.

“This is the first trouble we have had in all the time I have been here and hopefully there will not be any more in the future.”