“Oldest gay bar in Europe” loses liquor license after immigration raid – LGBTQ Nation

Author: Greg Owen

Napoleons in Manchester, England — said to be the oldest gay bar in Europe — has had its liquor license revoked. Authorities cited illegal workers, overflowing rubbish, blocked fire exits, and other violations as the cause.

The original British version of Queer As Folk was set in Manchester and debuted in 1999.

Napoleons changed hands again in 2016, adding karaoke to the entertainment lineup and a late-night Chinese takeout restaurant.

The bar is currently owned by Napoleon HL Ltd., with company director Guixiang Liu registered as the designated premises supervisor, according to the BBC.

After testimony from Manchester authorities and the bar’s representative at a town hall licensing review hearing on Tuesday, council members voted to revoke the longtime bar’s liquor license.

An immigration raid at Napoleons on February 29 ended in the arrest of five workers and a £90,000 ($114,642) fine for the venue owners.

“It’s clear there’s a history of non-compliance and this has been compounded with these immigration offenses,” the council said in a statement about the many issues Napoleons failed to address over several years.

The neighboring Sackville House in the Gay Village complained of “overflowing rubbish which has attracted rats, pigeons and vermins” in a shared yard, which “has been the case for about two years.”

“The staff and customers have complained about the smell,” a representative from the historic house testified. “A generator was put in for five months and was on 24/7. It was moved in April. It was very noisy.”

A council licensing officer also reported internal “fire exits have been blocked” and workers’ inability to use and review required CCTV cameras and recorders at the site.

The representative for Napoleons said the issues — in addition to the immigration questions — have all been addressed. The representative said that revoking the bar’s alcohol license would “not be proportionate.”

“I think it’s fair to say in absence of the immigration offenses, [the Greater Manchester Police] would not be here,” Rebecca Lowe told the town hall committee meeting, referring to the police’s raid and testimony.

Napoleons denies that any of those arrested in the raid were working there at the time.

“We would say we are here prematurely and the revocation of the license in response to something that’s not yet proven. If the license is revoked and [the owner] loses months of trading which she cannot recover [from], that would not be proportionate,” a representative from the bar said.

Speaking of the revoked license, legal adviser to the panel Laura Raine said, “The committee considered all the options available for them today, but the main reasons are continuing breaches of conditions, illegal workers and a civil penalty notice, no management, clear lack of accountability, and a clear lack of training.”

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Author: Greg Owen

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