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Final warning for seaside venue

PUBLISHED: 22:32 27 May 2004 | UPDATED: 04:54 02 March 2010

A FELIXSTOWE nightspot owner has been given a final warning by magistrates after a raid on his premises found nearly half the drinkers were under-age.

Businessman Rikki Double was told that he would lose his licence if he did not get his house in order.

A FELIXSTOWE nightspot owner has been given a final warning by magistrates after a raid on his premises found nearly half the drinkers were under-age.

Businessman Rikki Double was told that he would lose his licence if he did not get his house in order.

The hearing before magistrates in Ipswich followed growing concern from police and trading standards officers about the running of Bar Blue in Sea Road, Felixstowe.

Last month officers revealed how a joint covert operation to tackle alleged sales of alcohol to youngsters found that 16 out of 35 drinkers in the bar were under the required age for being in the club. Some were as young as 15.

The operation was carried out because of links between under-age drinking and anti-social behaviour by youths in the town.

Felixstowe police chief Insp Neal Atwell said: "The magistrates have given the owner one last chance to get his business in order or the next stage will be the revocation of his licence.

"They gave him a very strict talking to and left him in no doubt of their concerns and what he must do now."

The club is currently closed and has not been open since the raid in April, but Insp Atwell said officers would be keeping a close eye on the premises if they re-opened and visiting them regularly.

Mr Double, who has not been available to comment, is understood to be looking for a partner to run the business with and a joint licensee.

Funfair owner Charles Manning, who rents the premises to Mr Double, has had his name removed from the licence as he did not play an active part in the business but being a licensee gave him responsibilities for its running.

During the recent raid, under the supervision of trading standards officers, a 16-year-old boy and two girls aged 14 and 15 tried to get into the venue, which has an age limit of 18.

All three youngsters were admitted without any of the door staff challenging them about their age, said a council spokesman.

Once inside it is alleged the first two were sold alcohol illegally while the third was refused.

Twenty uniformed and plain clothes officers from Felixstowe, Ipswich, Leiston and Lowestoft, worked closely with officers from trading standards, and checked the age of all present.

Nobody was arrested, but parents were contacted and asked to collect their children.

Last November, Felixstowe police carried out a similar "test purchase" operation at the club and two 15-year-olds were served alcohol. Mr Double blamed the situation on human error at a busy time in the evening and said everything possible was being done to check ages.

After this he said new technology had been installed and youngsters would need to prove their age to receive an ID membership swipe card with a photo on computer in order to enter.

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