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Neighbours in race to help as roof collapses at Finsbury Park pub

Nearby businesses tell how they heard ‘loud bang’ as part of popular matchday boozer caved in

13 March, 2020 — By Calum Fraser

The main bar at the Arsenal Tavern after part of the roof collapsed on Sunday afternoon

THE owners of a popular Arsenal pub have been hit with a “statutory notice” to carry out repairs after the roof suddenly caved in.

Neighbours living around the Arsenal Tavern, in Blackstock Road, Finsbury Park, said they heard a “loud bang” as the roof of the pub came crashing down on Sunday evening.

Several eyewitnesses said it was a “miracle” that nobody was hurt and if it had happened the night before – when the Gunners had a match against West Ham United and the pub was busy – it could have been catastrophic.

Scaffolding on the outside of the Blackstock Road pub

A press official at Hackney council, which is responsible for the building as it lies on the other side of the border from Islington, said: “We investigated the report of a dangerous structure as part of our emergency response arrangements after the incident and – while thankfully there were no serious injuries – appropriate action was taken to ensure the building was made safe by removing remaining loose masonry from the wall and erecting a scaffold.”

He added: “Although the immediate danger has been removed, we have now issued the owner with a statutory notice requiring them to undertake full repairs to make the building safe and to allow us to recover all our costs.”

Neighbour Adrien, who did not want to give his full name, said he had been sitting in his flat in Canning Street, opposite the pub, when he heard what he thought was an “explosion”. He said he rushed across the road to see dust billowing out of the pub, which had only recently undergone a refurbishment when new owners took over.

“I ran over and the pub was covered in metal tiles and bricks,” he said.

“We tried to find out if someone was injured. If anyone had been in there it could have been very bad. It’s almost a miracle nobody was hurt.”

Demetris Patsalou, who has run the JNF barber shop opposite the pub for more than 40 years, said: “I think that building has been a mess for a long time. That upstairs area has needed some work on it for a long time.”

Several 5G antennas, run by the telecommunications company O2, were installed on top of the building during summer last year.

An O2 spokeswoman said: “O2 takes health and safety extremely seriously. All O2 base station sites are built in compliance with current regulations, including health and safety requirements.

“The site is operational, and we will continue to monitor service for our customers in the area. We’ll be working with the authorities monitoring the situation at the Arsenal Tavern.”

A spokesman for Ei Publican Partnerships, which owns the pub, said: “We are aware of the incident at the Arsenal Tavern and are working closely with the emergency services. We’d like to reassure the local community that we aim to reopen the pub as soon as possible.”

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