Manchester Arena: Proposed licence changes ‘not robust enough’ to deal with terrorist threat

Improved staff training, more CCTV, increased first aid provisions and event-by-event risk assessments all needed if venue is to be safer, authorities say

Colin Drury
Wednesday 06 October 2021 10:34
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<p>Manchester Arena</p>

Manchester Arena

Proposed new changes to Manchester Arena's licence have been opposed over concerns they are "not robust enough" to deal with terrorist threats.

Promotor SMG has applied to overhaul the venue’s operating conditions for the first time since a suicide bomber killed 22 people after an Ariana Grande concert in 2017.

But officials with Manchester City Council and Greater Manchester Police said they would not approve the changes because of fears they did not address the findings of the ongoing inquiry into the attack.

Improved staff training, more CCTV, increased first aid provisions and event-by-event risk assessments were all needed if the licence was to be approved, they said.

SMG said it would now work with the authorities on the issue, the BBC reports.

In a written objection to the application, PC Alan Isherwood, of GMP, called for written risk management plans and for CCTV to be in operation at all times, rather than simply when the venue is open.

He demanded SMG create a proposed “framework for how all events are managed…so that we could see whether they stood up to scrutiny and were fit for purpose”.

And he concluded: “GMP completely understands the intention to make the premises licence more fit for purpose but, until our concerns are satisfied, we would not support the variation being granted.”

The stance was backed by the council which said the proposed new licence was “not robust enough”.

Fraser Swift, principal licensing officer with the authority, said: “The chair to the Arena Inquiry has made a number of recommendations in volume one of his report, and we consider it appropriate these are demonstrably addressed in the proposed operating schedule…

“More information is needed on the purpose, scope, role and process of how they would operate in practice."

The application is due to be considered by the licensing subcommittee on 11 October.

The Manchester Arena Inquiry was opened in September last year and remains ongoing. A first volume of findings was published in June.

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