A NIGHTCLUB has secured approval to serve booze as part of radical plans to extend the basement and increase capacity despite crime concerns.

Purple Turtle had previously been granted permission to expand the Gun Street club, but required a new licence before the empty room could be used to take in more punters.

Thames Valley Police (TVP) submitted a number of concerns to Reading Borough Council, with 161 incidents reported to the force over the last two years, including sexual assault, drug offences and assault of a police officer.

The council's Licensing Applications Sub-Committee gave the green light to increase the capacity by as much as 100 people on Tuesday evening.

Club owners withdrew a similar application earlier this year after officers raised similar concerns surrounding more than 200 'significant incidents'.

PC Simon Wheeler, a member of TVP's Licensing team, said: “There is a disproportionate amount of crime coming from this area and we should take it into account, rather than attempting to brush it aside.

“We are not disputing the positives of the Purple Turtle, but there is no guarantee that the problems we are seeing are already being solved.”

“Unfortunately, we should be looking to refuse this application.”

Officers from TVP were sent to the nightclub in January after a man was punched in the face and sustained jaw injuries, but staff failed to record the incident in the logbook.

Councillor Paul Woodward, chair of the Sub-Committee, granted permission on the basis the old licence was revoked, with enhanced search policies and ID checks from 10pm.

The nightclub said it was committed to preventing crime in the town centre and offered to stop serving alcohol 90 minutes earlier on weekdays and Saturdays.

Sue Dowling, representing Purple Turtle, summarised: “I think it is quite harsh for the authorities to dismiss the additional measures, as those measures are bound to have a positive impact.

"Yes there are incidents, but what can be pulled out as an incident may not represent reality.

“The venue emphatically rejects that it is responsible for an increase in crime.”