Campaigners pledge to continue after Fabric loses its licence

Fabric nightclub

Campaigners have called for the battle to save London nightclub Fabric to continue after its licence was permanently revoked.

Islington Council’s licensing sub-committee ruled last night that efforts by the owners of the iconic club in Smithfield to tackle drugs on the premises had been inadequate.

The Metropolitan Police applied to the council for the licence to be reviewed after two 18-year-old clubbers died from drug overdoses this year, leading to the club being closed temporarily in August.

The council’s decision came despite a petition of nearly 150,000 signatures, backing from London mayor Sadiq Khan and representations from the club’s owners.

While Fabric’s owners have not commented whether they will appeal the decision, the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) said that “now we have to all unite together and take this to the higher decision makers”. Supporters also pledged on social media to continue the #savefabric campaign. The club, founded in 1999, employs over 250 people.

Responding to the news, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) warned that local authorities needed to work more closely with the sector or risk further venue closures, damage to the UK economy and an erosion of the country’s world-renowned music scene.

ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “We are very disappointed with Islington Council’s decision and we are sorry to lose a leading ALMR member and one of the UK’s most innovative, popular and lauded nightclubs.

“Management at the club were acutely aware of their responsibilities and had practices in place to ensure the safety of their customers, as highlighted by Finsbury MP Emily Thornberry, who was happy with the club’s best practice.

“Mayor of London Sadiq Khan called for a ‘common sense’ solution, which is exactly the kind of working relationship the licensed hospitality sector is trying to foster, and exactly what we did not get from Islington Council.

“The ALMR has been a vocal champion of the UK’s late-night economy and we believe that nightclubs such as Fabric are not just crucial economic drivers, but an integral part of the country’s social zeitgeist.

“Both local and national authorities need to work closely with the sector, not fight against it, or we risk losing more venues and doing irreparable damage to the UK’s music culture.”

The licensing sub-committee said it was revoking the licence because “people entering the club were inadequately searched” despite a previous review of the licence less than two years ago.

It stated: “Staff intervention and security was grossly inadequate in light of the overwhelming evidence that it was abundantly obvious that patrons in the club were on drugs and manifesting symptoms showing that they were. This included sweating, glazed red eyes and staring into space and people asking for help.”

It added that undercover officers witnessed, during a visit to the club on July 2, open drug use at the premises with drugs being offered for sale. “Searches on entry were again inadequate and in breach of the licensing conditions.”

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said: “Police felt the need to act due to concerns about the safety of those attending the club due to the supply of class A drugs in the venue and the recent deaths of two young men linked to the club.

“We support this decision made by Islington Council’s licensing committee. London has a world-renowned night-time economy and people should be able to enjoy it safely, without concerns of serious crime. The Met is committed to working in partnership with those responsible for this sector to ensure that this happens.”

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