THE After Dark club in Reading could be forced to shut down in February if a judge chooses to uphold a decision to take away its premises licence. 

The club, on London Street, has appealed to Reading Magistrates court, which will hear the case on January 31. 

After that, a judge will decide whether Reading Borough Council was correct to revoke the licence held by Zee Khan, who runs the After Dark. 

READ MORE: After Dark at risk after noise complaints and police concerns

The council decided in June to take away his licence to “safeguard the public”, after Thames Valley Police raised concerns that the club was running “high-risk events” attracting customers with a “propensity for extreme violence”. 

Mr Khan said this refers to just one fight, in November 2018, during a drill night, when a brawl spilled out onto the street and several police officers were called to the scene. He said: “One night of trouble shouldn’t mean revocation of the licence.”

Noise complaints were also a concern, of environmental protection officers at the council who had received multiple complaints from neighbours that music was being played too loudly late at night. 

READ MORE: Nightclub After Dark licence is revoked

But Mr Khan said most of the complaints came from just one neighbour. He said: “Most neighbours don’t complain”.

The After Dark has collected witness statements from other neighbours to help its case in the appeal hearing, showing that they support the club.

The club has stayed open since the council’s decision in June, pending the appeal to the magistrates court. But Mr Khan said disco nights and the New Year’s Eve party could be some of the last ever held at the After Dark. 

He said: “It’s sad that these events could be the last ever. We invite the community to support us, come to our events and show your support. We need people, who say they care about live music, to support us.”

Since June, Mr Khan said the club has improved its soundproofing and security. 

He said: “We had an independent acoustic expert come in. He did a noise report, and made recommendations. We’ve carried out quite a few, with only one or two left. We’re hopeful to get them done by the court date.” 

The improvements to soundproofing include buying a new sound system, a noise meter which records how loud the music is, and insulation. “Even on our maximum levels, we’re not a nuisance to our neighbours.”

On security, the club sends event plans to the police, to show how they intend to keep customers safe. Mr Khan said the fight on November 2018 was a one-off.

He said: “Our record speaks for itself [and] our security keeps our customers safe. It’s the safest venue in all of Reading.”

A judge could decide to either uphold the revocation, or send the case back to councillors on the licensing committee who made the decision in June, and ask them to reconsider. 

Mr Khan said: “We want to get through the revocation appeal and come out stronger. We hope the venue will continue, it’s in good hands. 

“It’s just a crazy place, underground, and unique — a space for so many communities. We’re looking forward to working with the police and the council after this.”