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‘Bottle attack’ nightclub is ordered to close

Campaigners fight to save Old Street venue after alleged New Year’s Eve incident led to licence review

10 January, 2020 — By Calum Fraser

Club Aquarium ‘regularly comes to police attention’ over alleged violence

THE team behind the campaign to save Fabric have come together again in a bid to rescue a nearby nightclub after the council ordered it to close.

Bosses at Club Aquarium – the UK’s “only nightclub with a swimming pool and jacuzzi” – were left reeling this week after Town Hall chiefs slapped a closure order on the Old Street venue after a spate of alleged violent incidents.

The club’s licence was called in for an emergency review after police who attended on New Year’s Eve found a man with head injuries that were believed to have been sustained by a blow with a Champagne bottle.

The man was taken to hospital with injuries “consistent with being struck with a glass bottle”, police said.

Two men were arrested at the club on New Year’s Day for possession of an offensive weapon and affray.

Sergeant Neil Fraser said in a report to the council: “Unfortunately, this incident is not unique as the venue regularly comes to police attention owing to incidents of serious crime and disorder.”

He added: “It appears that, despite numerous police interventions with the venue management, the venue is incapable of operating safely, without its patrons engaging in fighting both inside and outside the venue.”

Club Aquarium bosses have denied the allegations.

A spokesman for the club told the Tribune they are putting forward a “robust defence of another iconic London nightclub, which is under threat”, adding: “This is a vital community asset, and we are working hard to secure its future.

“Messages of support have already been coming in, and we would encourage anyone else who wishes to voice their support to e-mail Islington Licensing.

“Club Aquarium has been a feature of Old Street nightlife for a quarter of a century, hosting a wide variety of underground and more mainstream music nights and events during that time.

“Its licensing history is impressively clean, which in large part is a reflection of the consistently constructive approach its management have taken in their dealings with the authorities and stakeholders, and the seriousness with which they take their licensing obligations.”

The Night Time Industry Association (NTIA), who mobilised support for iconic Fabric nightclub, in Farringdon, when it was threatened by the council with closure, has given its support to the club.

NTIA chief executive Michael Kill said: “Club Aquarium is one of the only remaining 24-hour licensed music premises in London.

“As the recent Mayor of London’s Night Time Commission pointed out, we need more 24-hour licences, not less. This places an important UK venue in an unfair and untenable position.

“Club Aquarium has been part of the capital’s night time economy for 26 years, attracting visitors from across the UK and internationally with its broad range of cultural and dynamic entertainment offerings.

“It seems very sudden that after a strong history without operational issues, the recent incidents in the last 12 months, proportionate to its 26-year history, resulted in the venue facing an expedited review of its licence, culminating in the licence being suspended at an interim hearing last week.”

The council’s licensing panel decided to suspend the licence pending a full review on January 28.

The licence holders can still appeal against the original measure to close them down. If that happens then the review will be brought forward.

A police spokesman said: “Police welcome the interim measures imposed by the licensing committee.

“Whilst such applications are not made lightly when licensed venues persistently generate serious crime and disorder, swift action is essential to protect the public.

“The police licensing team will work with the venue in the coming weeks before making final submissions to the licensing committee.”

Nobody has been charged in connection with the alleged incident at Club Aquarium on New Year’s Eve.

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