Could Village be the first Carlisle casino? - Saturday 12th of March 2005

A FAILED Carlisle nightspot could become the city's first casino.

Owner of the Village nightclub building, Ged Crooks, told the News &Star that a company in Manchester is interested in turning it into a casino after the club closed six months ago due to mounting debts.

He said: ???They have had a look but nothing is categorical.

???The building would lend itself well to becoming a casino.???

Mr Crooks expects to take control of the building back ???imminently??? after his tenant Stephen Milligan put his company SM Leisure into the hands of administrators following the closure of the Lonsdale Street club.He has received a letter from the insolvency firm and is waiting for legalities to be sorted out before control is returned to him.

???It is imminent ??? it could be next week,??? Mr Crooks said.

The Government is currently trying to push through a Gambling Bill which would tighten the regulation of casinos but allow the building of ???super??? casinos in England and Wales. Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell was forced to reduce proposals for the number of casinos from 40 to 24 following widespread opposition and claims that the casinos would lead to a rise in gambling addiction.

Mr Milligan spent £1 million revamping the former Buskers club as Village last April but it closed within six months.

Steven Williams of insolvency specialists Begbies Trayor has been trying to sell the business for six months.

He said: ???We have had very little interest so the reality is that the landlord will take it back at some point.???

Mr Williams said Mr Crooks could try to sell the leasehold or let it out to someone else.

He added: ???We have had a couple of people look but I think the fact that it has failed is putting people off.???

He said its past failure meant it was unlikely anyone would take it on as a club.

???The thing with a new club is that it has to be really different to attract people off the circuit,??? he said.

Mr Crooks also revealed that a large clothing chain is interested in the Lonsdale Street premises..


Last week the News & Star revealed that SM Leisure???s other business, Robertson???s bar on Lowther Street has been saved from closure by Mr Milligan???s father.

It was due to close on Sunday because administrators had failed to find a buyer.

However Lloyd Milligan, who owns Milligans bakery, hammered out a deal to keep the business open.

Mr Crooks, who owns a string of properties in Carlisle including the Lakes Court Hotel, Leonardo???s cafébar and Pancho???s Mexican restaurant, has new tenants planning to open a new club in Carlisle.

They have applied to convert the former Fisher???s Furniture store on Botchergate into a two-storey club and cellar bar.

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