Fabric licence: MP Emily Thornberry backs campaign to save ‘cultural institution’

Emily Thornberry has backed Fabric's fight to stay open (Pictures: Fabio Venni/Creative Commons lice

Emily Thornberry has backed Fabric's fight to stay open (Pictures: Fabio Venni/Creative Commons licence CC BY-SA 2.0 and Yui Mok/PA) - Credit: Archant

Emily Thornberry has backed the huge campaign to save Farringdon nightclub Fabric, calling it one of the “great cultural institutions” of the borough.

Fabric in 2016. Picture: Danny Seaton

Fabric in 2016. Picture: Danny Seaton - Credit: Archant

The Islington South and Finsbury MP posted a lengthy article on her Facebook page outlining her support for the embattled club ahead of a town hall licensing meeting tomorrow night to decide its future.

It has been closed for approaching four weeks after two teenagers died having taken ecstasy there this summer.

Mrs Thornberry said: “As a parent, my heart goes out to the family and friends of anyone who has lost loved ones at such a young age, with lives ended before they have even begun.

“But we must guard against the assumption that dangerous drug use would cease simply if we were to close a nightclub like Fabric.

Fabric nightclub in Charterhouse Street. Picture: Polly Hancock

Fabric nightclub in Charterhouse Street. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

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“Whilst it may not be to everyone’s tastes, Fabric has huge cultural significance to an entire generation – a generation too often ignored and overlooked by politicians and policy makers.”

New documents released ahead of the meeting including a lengthy submission from director Cameron Leslie show the club has welcomed more than 6.75million people in its 17-year existence, employees 250 people and pays £270,000 in taxes each year.

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A petition to save the club has received more than 110,000 signatures and the campaign has been backed by club icons Pete Tong and Carl Cox as well as other venues, including the Royal Albert Hall.

Gazette readers have also thrown their weight behind the campaign, with 2,403 we polled wanting it to remain open and just 134 believing it should be closed.

Mrs Thornberry continued: “Of course Fabric is not perfect, and as with every nightclub, it faces a constant battle to contain and minimise the drug taking that is, unfortunately, part of nightclub culture.

“Nevertheless, Fabric is clearly not alone in facing these challenges, and for many years now it has led the way for other nightclubs in terms of drug prevention measures. Indeed, just seven months ago a judge referred to Fabric as a ‘beacon of best practice’.”

Mrs Thornberry said as Fabric’s drug seizure programme had apparently been developed with police, she was shocked to learn the logs of the confiscated drugs were now being used in evidence against the club.

She continued: “Whilst it is obvious that more must always be done to address the issues facing Fabric and other nightclubs in London, surely the answer cannot be to simply shut them down and drive this culture underground, into the hands of people organising illegal raves with zero oversight, security or medical support.”

The MP said she had met with the club owners last week and had every confidence they were willing to work with police to make the appropriate changes.

She added: “While the question of safety must remain paramount, I sincerely believe that the closure of Fabric cannot be the answer. It may be easy and, in some quarters, it may be popular, but that does not make it right.”

Police evidence uploaded on August 26 to the council website has attracted widespread fury from the club’s supporters for its allegations of widespread drug use and inadequate security, and their recommendations that the club’s licence be permanently revoked.

Writing in response, Mr Leslie said the club spent more on security, and employed more security staff per clubber, than any other club in Britain. He also pointed to the club’s well equipped medical facilities.

Read Mrs Thornberry’s full post here and check the Gazette website tomorrow for all the latest on the licensing meeting.

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