Troubled Hockley bar owners believe neighbourhood is due to be ‘gentrified’ and become like Shoreditch

Pledge that the Elite Bar and Lounge could be turned around with it operating as a non-shisha venue

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Elite Bar and Lounge on George Street in HockleyElite Bar and Lounge on George Street in Hockley
Elite Bar and Lounge on George Street in Hockley

A Hockley bar associated with a string of assaults, stabbings and anti-social behaviour should be allowed to remain open, it has been argued – as the new owner feels the area will soon be ‘gentrified’.

Elite Bar and Lounge on St George’s Street went before the council’s licensing committee on Monday (December 20) after West Midlands Police called for a review of the premises licence.

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Residents have described seeing drug use, gang violence and intimidation at the venue over the past few months, with one even claiming that patrons to the club often ‘urinate and defecate’ in streets and gardens around the venue.

Speaking at the meeting (Dec 20), a spokesperson for West Midlands Police said that a range of incidents including ‘threats to kill, wounding, robbery and stabbings’ at the venue over recent months meant that the licence should be revoked and the venue shut down.

However a representative for the bar’s new owner, Christina Preston, argued that the venue should be allowed to reopen in three months as a non-shisha venue, and pointed to his client’s record at other venues as evidence that the bar could be turned around.

George Street, Hockley (Google Street View)George Street, Hockley (Google Street View)
George Street, Hockley (Google Street View)

“Ms Preston purchased the business without any knowledge of what was going on in the minds of West Midlands Police at that time,” he said.

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“She saw this as an opportunity to develop her own business in an area of Birmingham that she believes is going to be gentrified and become like the Shoreditch of Birmingham.

“Elite Lounge and Bar operated as a shisha lounge and bar. Those premises operated as a shisha lounge, Ms Preston is not operating those premises as a shisha lounge, and never will she do so.”

West Midlands Police remain scepitical about plans to turn around the Elite Bar and Lounge

However the spokesperson for West Midlands Police was not convinced, telling the licensing committee: “I’m hearing that we’re going to run it in a similar fashion but with a much better manager and a much better set of policies, that’s what I’m picking up from the presentation that’s been made,” he said.

“I’m not really hearing about an overhaul in the way the premises will operate. And as I’ve said my concern is that this premises has a reputation even if it does have a name change, and that similar clientele will attend, similar hours, it’s still going to be a late night premises people go to after visiting other premises and those issues will continue for local businesses.”

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A decision over the licence is expected within five working days.

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