OWNERS of a bar at the centre of late-night drinking in Accrington face an anxious wait to hear if they will be forced to shut after alleged offences including rapes, assault and drug dealing were linked to the premises.

Members of Hyndburn Council’s licensing sub-committee heard mismanagement at IBar had led to a series of serious assaults, including one incident where as many as 20 people were involved in a brawl outside the bar.

And having heard both sides of the argument, committee members will make their decision when they reconvene on July 9.

They were told police have made regular visits to the bar but say little progress had been made on concerns brought up by officers.

As well as concerns over people being served while heavily drunk, poor security, violence, breach of conditions by playing music after hours and alleged dealing of drugs in the bar, Sgt Gary Hennighan said there were four alleged cases of rape connected to incidents after punters had left the premises in a vulnerable state.

And members were told of concerns at how management had failed to properly log a record of incidents that happened on the premises.

Sgt Gary Hennighan said: “There are 27 incidents reported to the police since the start of 2019 which can be shown to be linked to IBar.

“This is the highest proportion in the whole East Lancs area encompassing six local areas. If we go back to September 7, when an action plan was agreed, IBar is still the highest in East Lancs with 44 incidents. No real improvements have been seen by the police.”

Figures show there were 13 public order complaints, nine assaults and one serious injury since the start of the year.

Concerns were also raised about irresponsible drinks promotions, particularly a Thirsty Thursday offer where punters could drink from noon and buy shots for as little as £1.

Sgt Hennighan said former designated premises supervisor John Corbett has been replaced since the review process began, with DPS at the Warner Arms, Kirsty Newton, set to oversee both sites in the short term.

He added the contract with the security firm which had been working the doors had been terminated and a new firm had been brought in.

He said: “This is a late night bar effectively being run like a nightclub and I’m not sure whether Accrington has a responsible drinking crowd.

“IBar is a beacon where people can show up in any state and carry on the party.

“I still remain unconvinced about John Corbett because his oversight of IBar has been dreadful.

“I am concerned that he will still be pulling the strings.”

Representing IBar owners Bravo Inns, Michelle Hazlewood of John Gaunt and Partners, said a plan was in place to enforce stricter measures in a bid to crack down on problems.

That included imposing a 4am last entry rule with the bar to be shut by 5am.

Ms Hazlewood added more stringent searches would be carried out by door staff, especially on female customers, in a bid to stamp out issues with drugs.

And a smoking area would be introduced outside the bar where no drinks would be allowed in a bid to make the area more controlled.

She said: “We believe we can crush the violent behaviour happening in the premises and in the proximity.

“There will be much tighter management of the bar and of the door.”

Ms Hazlewood added issues could have been resolved at a much earlier stage if police had escalated the problem to Bravo Inns’ head office instead of dealing solely with Mr Corbett.

Chairing the meeting, Cllr Melissa Fisher said: “We have got a lot to consider so we have decided we need more time to review everything.”