IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Saved! Iconic nightclub set to reopen after new licensing conditions are agreed with Town Hall

The Tribune broke the news that famous nightclub would re-open

28 November, 2016 — By Joe Cooper

Fabric supporters celebrate the decision to reopen the nightclub

FABRIC will reopen after a deal was struck with the Town Hall – but the Farringdon nightclub will have to follow a strict new licensing regime.

As exclusively revealed in the Tribune last week, club bosses and the council had been working behind the scenes for weeks to avoid the need for a full appeal hearing.

Islington controver­sially withdrew Fabric’s licence in September following two ecstasy deaths at the club over the summer.

But the council is now “satisfied that Fabric’s directors and senior management understand precisely what has to be done to ensure that Fabric is a safe environment for young clubbers, and that zero tolerance to drugs means precisely that”.

The club agreed to 38 new conditions which include:

• a new ID-scanning system on entry;

• covert surveillance within the club;

• life-time bans for anyone found in possession of drugs, whether on entry or within the club and for anyone who tries to bring drugs inside;

• a new security company;

• a ban on under-19s on all main weekend club nights.

Phillip Kolvin QC, for the club, said Fabric was “eternally grateful” to supporters who raised £320,000 to fund its legal battle, as well as London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Islington South MP Emily Thornberry, who had also expressed support for the club.

Mr Kolvin added: “Many of London’s clubs have closed in recent years. If London is to maintain its global reputation, it’s essential that where problems are identified they must be thoroughly discussed wherever possible.”

Fabric IMG_0785

The Met Police forced the initial review of Fabric’s licence after claiming it provided a “safe haven” for illegal drug use.

A joint statement from Fabric and Islington Council issued after the hearing at Highbury Magistrates’ Court on Monday said: “Fabric accepts that its procedures in relation to searching were insufficient, as were its procedures to prevent the consumption and dealing of drugs within the club itself.

“Fabric is committed to doing all it reasonably can to ensure that no more of its clubbers come to drug-related harm. It also recognises that there need to be, and will be, changes to its management structure and accountability.

“For its part, Fabric understands and accepts that the additional conditions it has agreed to are meaningless unless its operational practices ensure each of them is complied with. Its directors and management remain committed to ensuring compliance. They are committed to ensuring the safety of their patrons.”

Phillip Kolvin QC outside Highbury Magistrates’ Court on Monday

Phillip Kolvin QC outside Highbury Magistrates’ Court on Monday

Rubber-stamping the agreement, Judge Robin McPhee said: “The parties have persuaded me that they have worked together to create workable con­ditions to prevent drugs use and supply within the premises. I am satisfied that they have paid regard to the con­cerns of the police and public.”

Fabric agreed to pay Islington’s legal costs. This will not come out of the pot of money donated by supporters.

Mr Khan said: “I am delighted that this agreement has been reached and that Fabric will now reopen. I have always said that we needed to find a common-sense solution that protects both the future of Fabric and the safety of all clubbers – as this does. I especially want to thank Islington Council for working so hard to come to this solution.”

The Met welcomed the agreement, but Superintendent Nick Davies, of Islington police, added: “We will be monitoring the ongoing conduct of Fabric and the activities that take place within it. If there are further breaches of the licence, Fabric should be in no doubt that they will be challenged by Islington police and action taken.”

• Chairman of the Night Time Industries Association, Alan Miller, welcomed the agreement, but said more and more regulation and the notion that nothing bad would ever happen in clubs was “thoroughly flawed”.

He added: “The problem is how we are treating venues, as though they are responsible for individuals’ behaviour.

“Venues are having more and more conditions put on them, but the question is, are we going to suffocate these places?

“In this country people take drugs. If we are serious about health and safety, then we should look at a harm reduction approach. We need to have a grown-up conversation.”

Cllr Caroline Russell also welcomed the decision, but added: “This zero-tolerance approach could have unintended consequences, with people taking a lot of drugs before they go into the club. We must continue to monitor this.”

Tribune revealed secret deal talks

THE news of Fabric’s reopening spread like wildfire around the world as soon as judge Robin McPhee rubber-stamped the agreement on Monday.

Tribune breaks Fabric news

But to many the news was not a surprise – thanks to last week’s front-page exclusive in the Tribune. We revealed that Fabric and the Town Hall had a deal on the table to reopen which would avoid the need for a full court hearing, which was due to start on Monday.

Neither side would comment on the top-secret negotiations, but just three days later the story was proved correct.

We broke the news on Friday morning, and news outlets around the world followed up on the story.

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