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Newport nightclub to have licence reviewed after alleged knife and fight incidents

Vibez nightclub in Cambrian Road, Newport (Pic: LDRS)

A SENIOR police officer has applied for a licence review at a Newport nightclub over concerns about the “prevention of crime and disorder”.

City councillors will review the premises licence of Cambrian Road club Vibez after a police inspector also flagged “public safety” fears.

Police concerns focus on an alleged “distinct lack of searching [customers upon entry] and control over the outside area of the premises”.

But staff members, customers and business colleagues have rushed to the club’s defence.

Council documents show police have logged several incidents at the club. These include a 2022 report showing a woman was “pushed by door staff [which] resulted in a broken elbow”, and a man “allegedly having a knife pulled on him and held against his stomach whilst in the male toilets” in February 2023.

Police also claimed CCTV footage showed “a continued lack” of searching by security staff and control over the club’s outdoor area.

A final warning letter was sent to Vibez in March 2023, noting “continued issues” with patrons being searched upon entry.

Officers described other incidents at the club, including an alleged assault on a man playing a gaming machine, and a report of a door supervisor who “exchanges punches” with another man, as well as CCTV apparently showing a man using a glass “to hit” another man “in the face”.

Police have also catalogued several reports of “exchanges” in the club’s outdoor area, as well as an incident reportedly branded a “photobooth saga” on the club’s own Facebook page, referring to a man and women “performing a sexual act”.

“From the evidence Gwent Police has produced, it is clear that although working with the premises and offering support and advice, that there has (sic) been continued breaches and disregard to the premises licence and actions plans,” the force alleged.

A lawyer for Vibez owner Jack Bannister said the businessman was “working with the police towards a resolution”, but added it would be inappropriate to comment further until after Newport City Council’s licensing sub-committee met to discuss Vibez’ premises licence on October 31.

Ahead of that meeting, the committee has received 16 letters of support for Mr Bannister and Vibez, including from the club’s assistant manager Lily Rees-Flowers, who said she feels “protected” at work by security staff who “act with professionalism at all times”.

Staff member Hannah Rees said the venue feels “extremely safe” and club security “deal with situations brilliantly”; while her colleague Aaron Pewtner said the Vibez management was “exemplary”, adding that he could “attest to the priority placed on customer safety”.

Matthew Morris, director of a firm supplying CCTV to Vibez, said entry to the premises “resembles an airport security zone more than a nightclub”; and Poppy Mansfield, who runs a staffing agency, described Vibez as “extremely well run with friendly security staff and management”.

Other letters of support came from customers, or from members of local football clubs which have held events at Vibez or attended the venue.

Elis Chapman called the club “great” and “professionally” run, while Richard Doody of Newport Corinthians said he felt the “safety and wellbeing of customers are of utmost importance”.