BOUNCERS have hit back after criticisms over heavy-handed action at a trouble-hit city centre club.
Door staff have defended their professionalism after the Glass Spider had a catalogue of restrictions imposed by licensing bosses.
Security men and women at the Green Terrace club say they are being unfairly portrayed and tarnished with an outdated image of their role.
While the licensing committee which imposed the restrictions made reference to a number of clashes between door staff and drinkers, the bouncers say little is ever mentioned of the good they do in the city centre.
Between them, Les Ojugbana and Gary Pearn have 40 years’ experience of working the doors and have resuscitated people, rushed pub-goers to hospital and tackled machete-wielding clubbers.
Les, who is head of security for Wylam Leisure, the firm which owns Glass Spider, said: “I’ve personally driven people to A&E and have chased someone from Green Terrace to Chester Road because police weren’t able to apprehend him.
“It’s been made out that there’s no control over the premises which isn’t the case. Encountering trouble is part and parcel of the job. Without us that city centre couldn’t operate. The police couldn’t handle it on their own.
“We have a good relationship with the beat police because they see how we operate, but a lot of people who make decisions about licensing don’t understand what we do.”
Les, who also works the doors at Ttonic and Paddywhacks, added: “We’re in a position similar to police but we don’t have weapons. All we have is our arms. If somebody comes at you, if someone is clawing your face, you have to try and restrain them with reasonable force.
“There is also a grey area around coming off your step to intervene in a fight. In training you are told not to do this, but this is one of the things we have been criticised for.
“We have come off our step to intervene in the past and been told off by police for it.”
He added: “In two years of being open the Glass Spider has had one million visitors and 61 incidents. We can’t pre-empt what happens when people have a drink. All we can do is try and stop trouble from happening and, if it does, to intervene.”
In order to obtain a door supervision licence, staff must undergo a five work SIA course which includes a section on conflict management and reasonable force.
Though doormen have been disciplined for using excessive force in the past, Gary is keen to point out that the vast majority of the city centre’s doormen are trying to keep clubbers safe and out of harm’s way.
“I’ve been a doorman for 30 years and the profession is a lot different from what it once was,” he said. “We dress smartly, we open doors for people, we meet and greet them. We do things right.”
After Sunderland City Council imposed restrictions on the club, leisure boss Tony Griffiths announced plans to sell his prized venue, a move which Les says will have repercussions for the the city centre.
Les said: “If people think that doormen are going around bashing people, which isn’t true, then they won’t come into the town which is bad for the city centre.”