Blu Jaz Cafe 'very irresponsible' for repeatedly flouting licensing rules: police

Petition launched to save iconic music venue Blu Jaz Cafe

Blu Jaz Cafe repeatedly flouted licensing conditions and accumulated 24 demerit points within a 24-month period, said the police in the wake of the popular nightspot losing its public entertainment license.

In a statement on Friday (19 October), the police noted that the two most recent breaches under the Public Entertainment (PE) Act by Blu Jaz were for “severe overcrowding”.

While the approved occupancy load for the second floor of Blu Jaz Café is 30 persons, the police found more than 150 persons there on 28 April 2018. In a follow-up inspection on 5 May 2018, the police found close to 200 persons on the second floor.

A police spokesperson noted that such conditions pose “very serious safety risks” to patrons and staff, especially in the event of a fire. Under these conditions, an evacuation during a fire may result in a stampede, the spokesperson said.

“The fact that the overcrowding occurred on the upper level significantly compounded the danger to everyone in the premises.  It was very irresponsible of the management of the Café to have allowed those situations to occur, putting so many lives at risk.”

The spokesperson added that even though the management of Blu Jaz Café was well aware of the issue and warned by police, it “did not put in place any mitigating measures, and instead allowed severe overcrowding to recur the following week”.

Once a licensee accumulates 24 demerit points, the police are “duty-bound” to issue the Notice of Cancellation order. “All outlets which accumulate the points, and breach the rules are treated the same way. It is untenable to treat different outlets differently,” said the spokesperson.

Blu Jaz Cafe was informed by the police last Monday that its public entertainment licence would be terminated with effect from 22 October. While the venue can continue to operate without the licence, it can no longer hold live music performances.

Blu Jaz is appealing against the cancellation of its license. The appeal is being reviewed by the independent Public Entertainment Appeal Board.