A community in the east of Preston has come out fighting in support of its local Labour club as they face a hearing to decide whether it will lose its entertainment licence.
The Greenlands Labour Club in Ribbleton was flung into the national headlines when it hosted cage fighting events involving children as young as 8.
The footage posted on YouTube showed youngsters grappling and brought the spotlight on the Chatburn Road venue.
An investigation into the operation of the club and its licence was launched after a complaint from University ward councillor John Swindells.
Cllr Swindells wrote: “I am aware of incidents of cage fighting involving children as young as 8 taking place at Greenlands Labour Club.
“I am concerned the effect and potential of harm to children taking part and attending the event.
“Children as young as 8 are still very young to be placed in an adult environment such as cage fighting arenas. Clearly there is potential for the children taking part to harmed during the event.”
Cllr Swindells also said the broadcasting of the fight on the internet for an adult audience was of concern.
Now as the club faces d-day for its hearing with the council’s licensing sub-committee the local community has rallied to its defence.
Letters of support from local community figures, sports groups and residents have flooded into the council.
The Preston and Fulwood Amateur Boxing Club said the club was “well run and very successful”.
It said in a letter: “Amateur boxing is thriving in the city of Preston and provides an essential sporting outlet to youngsters particularly in the more deprived areas of Deepdale and Ribbleton.”
Colin Makinson, vice chair of the Callon Kids Community Club, also supported the club.
He said: “We have received cash donations from the management and have been able to access the Greenlands club mini bus on many occasions.
“Without the support from organisation like the Greenlands Club voluntary organisations like the Callon Kids Club would not be able to survive.”
One resident wrote: “If this club was to lose its licence it would be a big step back for all the surrounding communitys (sic), Greenland, Moor Nook, Brookfield, Grange and further afield, this cannot be allowed to happen over something so triviel (sic).”
Ribbleton councillor Jonathan Saksena said if the club were to have its licence removed it would just serve to drive cage fighting “underground”.
He said: “It must be stressed that the manager of the club is an honourable person and she acted in good faith booking the event which has given rise to such controversy. Other sports such as boxing have been held on the premises and no problem has ever been raised or identified.
“The problem with cage fighting is that it is contained within the category of Mixed Martial Arts and is therefore only minimally regulated.
“We should be pressing for regulation, rather than penalizing people. Removing the licence will do incalculable harm and very little good – the cage fighting will continue, probably underground.”
The full details of the licensing review can be found on the council website. The fate of the club’s licence will be decided by councillors on Thursday 17th November from 10am at the Town Hall.
What do you think about the review of the licence? Do you support the club or should it be stripped of its entertainments licence? Let us know in the comments below