COUNCIL VOTES TO KEEP NIGHTCLUB OPEN

TODAY the Leader can exclusively reveal who voted for and against the possible suspension of the Coach Inn's entertainment licence.

At a special meeting of Banbridge Council on Monday, which was held behind closed doors and went on for around six hours, councillors decided against suspending the licence on a seven-six vote.

The meeting was called after police lodged strong objections to the renewal of the Church Square nightclub's licence.

Councillors heard from legal representatives from all sides involved. Local PSNI District Commander Christine McCullough was unable to attend.

It is understood that a request by the Area Commander that the council hold the meeting on a different date was unsuccessful.

A recorded vote resulted in six votes in favour of suspension and six against with the UUP chairman John Hanna's deciding vote falling in favour of the premises remaining open.

The councillors who also voted not to suspend the licence were Patrick McAleenan (SDLP), Dessie Ward (Sinn Fein), Seamus Doyle (SDLP), Liz Ingram (UUP), Wilfred McFadden (DUP) and Frank McQuaid (Alliance).

Those who wanted the licence suspended with immediate effect were councillors Joan Baird (UUP), Jim McElroy (DUP), Norah Beare (DUP), Junior McCrum (DUP), David Herron (DUP) and Paul Rankin (DUP).

SDLP councillor Cassie McDermott did not vote, having left the meeting early after 'declaring an interest', while Ian Burns of the UUP left before presentations were made to the councillors as he had prior engagements.

Independent councillor Stephen Herron said he had been unable to attend the meeting and declined to comment further.

In a statement a council spokesperson said that after hearing the evidence presented by both the PSNI and representatives acting on behalf of the licensee, local councillors were split on the decision with seven in favour and six against the proposal not to suspend the nightclub's current licence.

The spokesperson said the council was concerned on hearing the evidence presented by the PSNI in relation to the issue of alleged drug dealing within the nightclub.

"However, on the balance of all the evidence presented, The Coach Inn's representatives demonstrated to the council that they had taken steps to address these issues," the spokesperson added.

It is understood the council will continue to monitor the situation closely over the coming weeks and will review their decision when the nightclub's current licence is considered for renewal in January.

Dominic Quinn, of the Coach Inn, declined to comment on the matter.