Ripon nightclub comes under fire by police

The Matrix nightclub on Kirkgate.
The Matrix nightclub on Kirkgate.

A Ripon nightclub owner has defended the running of his business amid a police clampdown on anti-social behaviour outside the venue.

Chris I’Anson, who owns the Matrix on Kirkgate, has come under fire from police and residents for the behaviour of late night revellers in streets surrounding the club.

Nearby residents have complained about drunks vomiting in the street, urinating through letterboxes and having sex in doorways.

“It happens all over the country,” said Mr I’Anson, 54, who stressed he was satisfied with the way he operates the venue. “We have a very strict policy. I employ five door staff and we ban anyone who causes trouble.

“But 18 or 19-year-olds do not want to be stuck in the house at the weekends watching Coronation Street.

“If the club wasn’t here they’d go to Harrogate, York or Northallerton – which isn’t good for business in Ripon.”

Mr I’Anson, who has owned the nightclub for nine years, said: “The club has been here for more than 30 years. These people choose to live in the city centre – what do they expect?”

A Kirkgate resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said he endures violence, noise and disruption every Friday and Saturday night when the club is open until 3am.

“Businesses on Kirkgate have had their windows smashed, people have urinated through my letterbox on several occasions and people have fights outside. We clean up the sick in the morning. It’s fundamentally bad for businesses in Ripon.”

And Ben Smith – the owner of A and B taxis – said that Kirkgate is “extremely dangerous” when large crowds gather around the venue. But Mr Smith said there is not much more that the Matrix can do to prevent anti-social behaviour outside the venue.

“It’s not the club’s fault. They have security staff outside. It would help if there were more police officers out on the streets,” he said.

The head of Ripon police, Insp Rob Thorpe, said the nightclub is now his top priority.

“The big problem is that it’s the only club in the city, on a narrow street in a historic part. As soon as people are outside the club the owners don’t think it’s their responsibility – but it is,” he said.

Insp Thorpe added: “Owners think they are no longer responsible for people who are wandering around drinking on the streets but it’s an horrendous situation for any resident to have to live in.”

He said more police officers will be patrolling the area on foot and plain clothes officers will be sent inside the club at weekends.

Police have the power to keep trouble-makers –including those under 18 – overnight in the cells under the Violent Crime and Reduction Act.

Insp Thorpe confirmed extra patrols will also be used to target other pubs and bars in Ripon.

“This will not just be at the Matrix,” he said. “This will happen in places across the city. If they want to work with us, then fine. But if not we can take them to the courts and apply to have their licenses removed. It’s more important to protect the people of Ripon – not these businesses.”

Insp Thorpe said he would now be preparing a report on anti-social behaviour after consultation with Kirkgate residents.