Newcastle drugs-probe bars spared closure

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Image source, Google
Image caption,
The bars are located on Collingwood Street, known as Newcastle's "Diamond Strip"

The temporary closure of three Tyneside bars that allowed drugs to be sold on the premises has been overturned.

House of Smith, Florita's and Madame Koo in Newcastle were shut in December and appealed against further one-month closure notices.

It followed an undercover investigation by Northumbria Police.

Venues' operator, the Apartment Group, appealed against the closures and has since "fully addressed" all issues, city council chiefs said.

Class A drugs had been sold at each of the bars with dealers given "almost celebrity-like status", a report to Newcastle City Council's sub-licensing committee had found.

They were able to bypass the paying queue and access the VIP area without being searched.

Police later seized £17,000 in cash and cocaine with a street value of £14,000.

However, the council said it was "satisfied" 15 new conditions on the bars' licences were being met after the Apartment Group put a different management team in place.

"We are comfortable the Apartment Group have fully addressed all the issues that were raised," it said.

"Significant changes have been made that reflect the gravity and seriousness of the offences."

Image source, Northumbria Police
Image caption,
Police found a gun and drugs as part of their investigation

The bars shut their doors in December before re-opening on 4 January.

A month-long closure notice was then imposed by the council on 26 January following a meeting of its sub-licensing committee.

The Apartment Group declined to comment on the council's latest decision.

Eleven people arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs have been released pending further investigation.

Northumbria Police declined to comment.

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