Rock concerts and club nights at 02 Victoria Warehouse have been saved following a decision not to revoke its operating licence.

Trafford council’s environmental officers had applied for a review of the venue’s licence following concerns over public safety after several unannounced visits by an inspection team.

But after a lengthy hearing before the council’s quasi-judicial licensing sub-committee, chair Coun David Jarman said revoking the licence would be ‘disproportionate in this case’.

Concerns had been raised over crime and disorder, public safety, ‘the prevention of public nuisance’ and the ‘protection of children from harm’ at the venue taken over by Academy Music Group (AMG) Ltd in 2019.

The environmental team visited the Trafford Park venue following an incident at the 02 Academy in Brixton, London in December 2022 when a security guard and a mother–of-two lost their lives in a crush.

At Victoria Warehouse concerns had been raised over arrangements of queuing to get into the venue and possible danger to pedestrians on Trafford Wharf Road.

There was also criticism of the medical facilities and stewarding arrangements, including one incident where a steward’s radio was broken, and hence could not activate evacuation procedures if required.

Solicitor James Parry representing the council told the panel of three councillors they had three options, to review the conditions of the licence, suspend the licence for three months, or ask AMG to change the designated premises supervisor (manager).

“You may consider that there wouldn’t be an improvement any time soon, so you may also consider revoking the licence,” he said.

“There is no confidence [among the environmental team] that AMG will abide by any new conditions. There is a tendency by them to abrogate [evade] their responsibilities. It is not the local authority’s responsibility to micro-manage them.”

Under questioning, it was revealed by AMG that fears over the structural safety of a balcony had been resolved where gig-goers could watch bands from the first-floor level of the venue had been allayed.

But Mr Parry went on: “The officers have been back and done more inspections and come away with another list of problems. A view has now been taken that enough is enough.”

However, Philip Kolvin KC for AMG, told the panel that the company’s management team had 150 years of ‘regulatory experience’ between them. 

“They’ve been operating premises in this city for 30 years and this is the first time they’ve gon to [licensing] sub-committee,” he said.

“AMG don’t want to abrogate responsibility, but would like to work in partnership [with the council and police].

“AMG is a highly experienced operator with 18 venues in major cities in the UK, including the 02 Ritz on Whitworth Street in Manchester. 

“They’ve hosted 45,000 shows for 35million customers in total. They’ve had to deal with a large number of promoters and artists. If my client did not run safe venues they would not be able to attract the world’s leading artists like they do. 

“They are also serious about promoting local grassroots artists as well as international stars who are drawn by the reputation of AMG who have advanced health and safety systems.”

Mr Kolivn added that there had never been any prosecutions and no accidents involving people entering or leaving the 3,500-capacity venue.

Following a lengthy adjournment the panel of three councillors returned to the committee room and Coun Jarman said: “The application [by the environmental team] for a review of the licence was a valid one.

“However, having heard all the evidence and read all the paperwork, including supplementary bundles supplied by both sides, we feel revocation [of the licence] is disproportionate in this case. So we’re not going to revoke the licence and to allow it to continue with modifications to conditions.”