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'Table-dancing venue' above Walsall club where man was stabbed to death to have licence reviewed

A ‘serious disclosure failure’ was made when applying to renew a licence for a gentleman’s club above a nightclub where a man was stabbed to death, West Midlands Police has said.

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The entrance to Valesha’s nightclub and Savannah’s upstairs

Walsall's Chief Superintendent Phil Dolby, on behalf of the chief constable of the force, has requested that Walsall Council revokes the sexual entertainment venue licence relating to Savannah’s, which sits above Valesha’s nightclub in Newport Street, where Akeem Francis-Kerr was fatally stabbed on March 11.

The nightclub, also known locally as Colliseum, had its premises licence suspended earlier this month, pending a full review hearing, following a request from police on the grounds that the premises was "associated with both serious crime and serious disorder".

Akeem Francis-Kerr

According to the report, the application for the review of the premises licence also alleged the venue has historic association with people believed to be gang members and that some "gang nominals" were present at the premises on the night of the incident.

There was also an allegation of failure to comply with a condition of licence – that "routine searches will take place to ensure that no illegal substances or weapons are brought in to the club”.

Both floors operate under the same premises licence, with the first floor also operating as a 'table-dancing venue' under a SEV licence, West Midlands Police said.

The licences are held by an entity described as ‘Capital Leisure'.

In a letter to the council, Chief Superintendent Dolby says an application to renew the SEV licence for Savannah’s, formerly known as Club X, was made by Capital Leisure in April 2022.

The application required the applicant to "give full names and private addresses of all directors or other persons responsible for management of the establishment".

The only name given was of Streetly Councillor Suky Samra, who sits on the council’s licensing committee.

But West Midlands Police said it has since come to light that other parties were involved and that the application for the renewal of the SEV licence was "seriously deficient" for failing to identify the individuals who made up the 'partnership' known as Capital Leisure.

The letter stated: "At a summary review interim steps remote hearing held before Walsall Council's licensing sub-committee on March 16, a solicitor acting for 'Capital Leisure', Mr Harpal Singh Samra (believed to be the brother of Councillor Samra) stated to the licensing sub-committee in response to questions that Capital Leisure, the premises licence holder (and SEV licence holder) was a 'partnership'. The two partners were stated to be 'his parents' namely Harminder Singh and Karamjit Kaur.

"The solicitor, Mr Samra, stated that his father was the owner of the building."

It continued: "This is a serious disclosure failure that goes to the heart of the SEV licensing regime.

"An important purpose of the SEV application and renewal process is to ensure that the council and other responsible authorities are fully aware of the identity and bona fides of all persons who own and are responsible for managing SEV premises."

West Midlands Police said it undermined the council and police force's ability to regulate and take enforcement action against the holder of the SEV licence, and called the situation "opaque and deeply unsatisfactory".

The force said it did not believe Harminder Singh and Karamjit had any involvement in managing the premises, yet were the SEV licence holders.

The letter added: "The renewal application suggests that the only person who is a director or is responsible for managing the premises is Councillor Samra, yet he makes no mention of that in his declaration of pecuniary interests as a councillor."

It says since the renewal application was granted, all management responsibility for promoting the licensing objectives and compliance with the two licences appeared to have been delegated by Councillor Samra to another company altogether.

West Midlands Police has argued that Capital Leisure is unsuitable to hold a SEV licence with reasons including a 'failure to make full and appropriate disclosures' and 'failures of management and breach of premises licence conditions that occurred on the night of the homicide on March 11'.

Walsall Council's licensing sub-committee is due to meet to review the SEV licence for Savannah’s on Tuesday.

Councillor Samra said at the time Akeem was killed there were tenants on a lease who were in operational control of the premises and that position would be defended next week.

He said the tenants had since been removed from the lease, but that no one had wanted to see such a tragic event.

Councillor Samra added: "I'm disappointed with the police action. The police could have come to us and we would have been happy to close for the foreseeable future.

"This premises will remain closed for a long period. I don't see if reopening for the rest of the year."

He added that he had declared an interest in Capital Leisure when he was connected to the business, and his name was on the application form as the contact for his family.

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