POLICE AND COUNCIL: Manchester Arena licence changes approved despite concerns
Manchester Arena licence changes opposed by police and council, Image: Google Maps
Plans to change Manchester Arena’s premises licence have been approved by the council – despite initial concerns from police and licensing officers.
An initial application by arena operators SMG to change the venue’s operations schedule were said to ‘lack specific detail’ on how many staff would receive counter-terrorism training.
Further clarification was also sought on how the venue’s new operations schedule (OMP) would work in practice in relation to CCTV and first aid.
Greater Manchester Police and Manchester council’s licensing department had submitted objections to the application ahead of a hearing on Monday.
But the changes, the first to be made to the existing licence since it was granted in 2005 and since the terrorist attack at the arena in 2017, have now been approved.
An agreement was reached between SMG, GMP and Manchester council’s without the need for the hearing after the extra information sought by the authorities was made available.
A spokesperson for SMG said: “We are pleased that Manchester City Council’s licencing authority has granted the Arena’s licence, which the Arena proactively sought to be updated earlier this year.
“Since then, we have been in constructive dialogue with Greater Manchester Police and Manchester City Council to agree to the proposed conditions, as well as clarify specific aspects of our application, such as the proposed operational management plan.”
SMG say they are committed to complying with the Protect Duty, a new law proposed by the government which would impose legal obligations for organisations to consider the safety and security of staff and the public using their venues.
The legislation shares many similarities with the ‘Martyn’s Law’ campaign led by Figen Murray, the mother of one of the 22 victims of the Manchester Arena bombing Martyn Hett, which called for stricter security measures at public venues.
In their objections both GMP and Manchester council had said there was not enough clarity on how many staff at the arena would receive Protect Duty training, and how often it would be refreshed.
The council’s licensing team had also asked for the OMP to align with recommendations by the chair of the inquiry into the arena attack.
But they are now supportive of the new operations schedule, which will be made available to a new safety advisory group made up of the council and all emergency response services.
The authorities will be allowed to inspect and give advice on the OMP, which is expected to be reviewed and revised when planning for specific events at the arena.
The SAG spokesperson said: “This plan sets out in detail our approach to counter-terrorism as well as our commitment to comply with the Protect Duty once this is published by the government.
“We look forward to working with GMP, MCC and our other partners as we continue to ensure safety is at the heart of all events held at the Arena.”
Words: Niall Griffiths, Local Democracy Reporter
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