York & North Yorkshire

Overcrowded York nightclub posed 'risk to life'

Kuda, York
Image caption Fire officers said there was a real risk guests could not have been able to evacuate safely in case of a fire

A nightclub fined thousands of pounds amidst concerns of overcrowding posed a real "risk to life" by having too many people in the venue.

Kuda in York had 1,300 punters inside on 24 November 2017 - more than double its 645 capacity.

The club's owner, former general manager and security firm admitted breaching fire regulations at Leeds Crown Court on 21 June.

North Yorkshire Fire Service said the club had a responsibility to customers.

It was notified by City of York Council's licensing services department of concerns at the club on Clifford Street, where investigations found overcrowding.

There was no control of guest numbers over the club's three floors, despite a recommended capacity of 645 people due to concerns over the size of the exits.

Watch manager David Lawrence said: "In this case, the risk to life, of death or serious injury was so great that prosecution was considered appropriate.

"All of the parties involved were in a position of trust and responsibility. Considering the age of the occupants along with the consumption of alcohol, that responsibility was so much greater."

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The nightclub owner, Deltic Group Ltd, of Rooksley, Milton Keynes, was fined £42,000 and ordered to pay £16,666 costs.

It said it fully accepted the judgement and added: "We are committed to the safety of our customers and staff and we recognise that the venue management fell short of the standards required on the night.

"We are grateful to the judge for acknowledging that the company is a highly responsible operator, that this was a one off, amongst the backdrop of a blemish-free track record, and we have since taken steps to tighten up our processes."

The club's former general manager, Wayne Mason, 41, was given a four month prison sentence suspended for two years. Mason, of Mill Lane, Kirk Ella, Hull, was also ordered to serve 160 hours unpaid work and pay £16,666 costs.

The security company supplying door staff, Securigroup Services Ltd, of Bath Street, Glasgow, was fined £18,000 and ordered to pay £16,666 costs.

It said it regretted the circumstances which led to the overcrowding of the nightclub and added "we have made changes to all our existing and future contracts to insist that our clients operate within maximum capacity limits."

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