Licence victory at last for play centre

Rainforest Adventure is a popular children's venue in Motherwell.
Rainforest Adventure is a popular children's venue in Motherwell.

A children’s play centre named in a drugs and money laundering trial has been given the go-ahead to keep running.

Councillors agreed to give Mohammed Shafique a t licence for Rainforest Adventure in Windmillhill Street, Motherwell, despite a police objection.

Earlier this year the future of the popular centre was in some doubt after Lindsay Clarke failed to get her licence to run the premises renewed.

She was in the middle of a High Court trial at the time involving allegations of cocaine dealing and money laundering. Police objected to her running Rainforest and her renewal application was thrown out by North Lanarkshire Council’s licensing sub-committee.

Mrs Clarke (32) and her husband, Graham (36), of Larkhall, eventually walked free when the jury returned not proven verdicts after a five-month trial.

It had been alleged they used drugs money to set up Rainforest Adventure Limited and run the soft play centre in Motherwell. It was claimed they overstated the income of the business by almost £400,000 in a bid to hide dirty cash.

Mrs Clarke was found guilty of one charge of mortgage fraud and was fined.

Although a public entertainment licence is needed to run a play centre, Rainforest had stayed open after Mrs Clarke appealed against the council’s refusal. A sheriff then ordered the council to re-consider her application in light of the trial verdict.

Last week a solicitor and an advocate acting for Mrs Clarke were set to present her application to the sub-committee.

However, it was put on hold and is likely to be withdrawn after Mr Shafique’s application was successful. He has been a director of Rainforest Adventure Motherwell Limited since September 2014.

Councillors approved his application on a one-year trial basis, with various conditions attached.

A police spokesman said: “We raised an objection in respect of this matter and note the council’s decision.”