Islington councillor slams Fabric re-opening: ‘It’s incredible we didn’t listen to people’
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An anti-Fabric Islington councillor thinks the town hall is on a “slippery slope” after the Farringdon club was allowed to re-open.
Clerkenwell Cllr Raphael Andrews said any other club which loses its licence over drugs will now see Fabric’s successful appeal as legal precedent.
He added it was “incredible” that the council had “ignored” concerns about the world-famous Charterhouse Street club.
In September, Cllr Andrews pleaded with the licensing sub-committee to revoke its licence after the deaths of two 18-year-old men from MDMA overdoses – and subsequent police reports of rife drug culture.
On the verge of tears, he had said: “I don’t want to be here in three or four years’ time hearing about someone else who died.”
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Its licence was subsequently taken away. But last month, Fabric and the council’s legal officers negotiated strict new procedures promoting “zero tolerance” towards drugs. The club was allowed to re-open by a district judge at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court.
Speaking at a meeting of the full council last night, Labour Cllr Andrews criticised the town hall over this agreement – an unusual occurrence in a chamber dominated 47 to one by Labour councillors.
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Cllr Andrews said: “We as a council have a policy of listening to people’s concerns. What I find incredible is we don’t seem to be doing that.
“If a committee makes a decision on licensing grounds and it leads to a review, what’s to stop anyone else [who breaches a licence] also going to court to get it back again? We have put ourselves on a slippery slope.”
Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Islington’s community development leader, responded: “If there’s a breach, it should be reviewed. But equally, a licensee has the right to appeal.”
She was also grilled by Jane Taylor in the public question segment, and stressed again: “The council didn’t overturn the committee’s decision, and I want to thank the committee for its diligence.
“But Fabric exercised its legal right to appeal and they offered significant conditions promoting zero tolerance towards drugs. There will be enhanced monitoring carried out by the police and council at Fabric, and Fabric has offered to do more engagement.”
But Ms Taylor, who was stood next to Cllr Flora Williamson – the chair of the committee which originally shut Fabric in September – responded: “Fabric has a record of ignoring its licence. What will the council’s response be at the next reported incidence of criminal activity?”
And Cllr Comer-Schwartz stuttered: “It’s difficult to predict the future...It would go through licensing procedures.”
Fabric will re-open on January 6, and has promised a “host of unannounced special guests from our history and our future”.