Thursday, 29 July 2010

Broke Club: New Licensing Laws and July Update

Two important events this week which both relate to the Broke Club at  562 Mile End Road, London E3 4PH
  • MERA and representatives of people living north of Mile End Road (including the Quiet Night Group and Councillor Joshua Peck) attended a residents' review meeting with Benn Wilson, the Manager of the Broke Club, on Tuesday night following a weekend which generated significant concerns about its operation.
  • On Wednesday, The Home Scretary announced the Government's proposals for major changes to the Licensing Laws to reduce the amount of anti-social behaviour associated with alcohol.
Below you can find an account of both.  First the good news.

[Note:  This post has been updated since first published to include a detailed report from a resident of Clinto Road, London E3]

A new crackdown on licensed premises causing problems to local communities

The Government announced on Wednesday that it intends to overhaul the Licensing Act to give local authorities and the police much stronger powers to REMOVE licences from, or refuse to grant licences to, any premises that are causing problems

Read the consultation paper (click this link): Rebalancing the Licensing Act – a consultation on empowering individuals, families and local communities to shape and determine local licensing.

The consultation asks for your views on a range of options, including:
  • allowing local authorities to consider the opinions of the wider community, not just those living close to premises
  • doubling the fine (to £20,000) for those found persistently selling alcohol to children
  • charging a fee for late-night licences to pay for the cost of extra policing
  • fully considering police and health concerns in assessing licence applications
  • increasing licence fees so that local councils can cover costs linked to enforcement
  • introducing a ban the sale of below cost alcohol and consulting on how this can be achieved
Two of the measures proposed - both of which are relevant to the Broke Club - are:
Increase the opportunities for local residents or their representative groups to be involved in licensing decisions, without regard to their immediate proximity to premises.
Substantial overhaul of the system of Temporary Event Notices to give the police more time to object, enable all responsible authorities to object, increase the notification period and reduce the number that can be applied for by personal licence holders.
You can have your say about the new proposals online. Click this link and You can contribute online to the alcohol licensing consultation.

Residents Review Meeting with Benn Wilson, Broke Club

10 local residents from both sides of Mile End Road, Cllr Joshua Peck and the Acting Principal Licensing Officer for Tower Hamlets Council attended the meeting with Benn Wilson on Tuesday 27th July.

At the June meeting the view was positive about the attention being given to addressing problems.  However the situation and residents' views have now changed and a number of issues were discussed at the meeting.

Concerns about parking:  It was noted that very few cars are using the valet parking facility (only six cars of which 3 were valet parked).  However, local residents have observed cars being parked in Aberavon Road, Eric Street and Hamlets Way which are very clearly associated with the people visiting the Broke Club.  Since the meeting, the QuietNight people have heard about very significant disturbances in Clinton Road - see below
I live on Clinton Road and every Saturday night we have disturbances from people that leave the club and then congregate in the park which surrounds our street. Women screaming, swearing and arguing as they're so drunk, men running up and down the street racing each other. The peeople living on our street are very patient and hardly ever complain but the noise is a nuisance, especially I have a (young child) and he wakes up scared because he can hear a lot of screaming.

We lived in peace and and quiteness for a a few years, up until the club had started again. As a working person and a mother, I just want to be able to sleep peacfully at night and not hear noise, fighting and breaking of glass. If you take a walk down Clinton Road, you will see alot of broken glass on the road near the park and this is not safe for young children to play around.
Residents have followed people from parking their cars to the club.  They were not stopped by any marshall.  They were not stopped from entering the club.

It's clear that the door marshalls are not asking the right questions in the right order to determine whether or not people have parked their cars in local streets and to deter them from doing so.
Licensing Condition 28. If tickets are sold prior to an event at the premises, the ticket will be clearly marked that if the guest is travelling by car, the guest will need to produce both their ticket and valet parking tag in order to gain entry to the premises.
There are additional concerns about illegally parked cars - which may or may not be associated with the club - that blocked the access of emergency vehicles to Wentworth Mews.  In the past a person died in a fire in the block of flats in Wentworth Mews because a fire engine was unable to gain access due to illegally parked cars.  MERA will be contacting Highways to indicate that there needs to be much improved observation of parking infringements  around Wentworth Mews and Eric Street.

Website:  The website advertises the valet parking but FAILS to provide a clear message that parking in residential streets near the Club MUST be avoided.  Third party advertising also completely FAILS to make any reference to respecting the residential nature of the neighbourhood and the location of free parking.  

(Note: MERA made screen dump records of all websites advertising the event on Saturday - including the version translated from Lithuanian.

This exercise will be repeated for all internet adverts for events at the Broke Club.  Note the above Broken Disco advert for the event on Friday 30th July makes absolutely NO REFERENCE TO PARKING!)

Signage:  Mr Wilson also needs to give more attention to the location and wording of the temporary parking signs.  The signs need to be a lot clearer about which streets Broke Clients must NOT park in.  (Why would people use the valet parking if they can spot a slot in a nearby street?)

Whether or not there is a disturbance, the very clear message Mr Wilson got from residents' representatives was that  
  • The expectation given by his presentation on valet parking was that there would be no cars parked in local residents streets at all - and this is very clearly not happening. 
  • Management of parking in local streets need to be significantly improved.
Residents experiencing disturbances in Streets at unsocial hours   Residents from both sides of the Mile End Road have been experiencing disturbances.  One example was quoted in detail.  Residents of Aberavon Road observed a loud argument after 3am on Sunday 25th July between a group of men and women next to a car parked in the road.  This involved shouting and swearing in an Eastern European lanaguage  which lasted for 9 minutes.  The event at the Club on the night of 24/25th July was for a Lithuanian club. The incident was reported by the Quiet Life Group organiser at 3.27pm.  There were also disturbances on the Friday night.

Disturbances due to loud music:  The noise levels for residents in Wentworth Mews directly behind the club have been both intrusive and sufficient to disturb sleep.  It's now clear that initial noise assessments were done during months when everybody had their windows closed.

Mr Wilson explained that:
  • he patrols around the club every 20 minutes and if he can hear music outside he instructs DJs to turn the music down. 
  • the sound system is too powerful for the size of the club.  It is being replaced this week by one which is not so powerful.
However, My Wilson advised that some DJs turn the music back up after being told to turn it down. 

Much better  control of DJs needs to be exercised by management. Residents were of the view that there has been inadequate management of the DJs whose behaviour determines whether some residents can sleep.   Residents suggested one option might be to make their fee "performance related" to their ability to observe the rules.

Involvement of third parties:  It's very clear that a number of mistakes were made about the Private Event for the Lithuanian Club on the Saturday night.
  • Two third party organisations had a much bigger influence on the marketing than should have been allowed by the Licensee
  • Third party facebook adverts for the event did not get the information across about free valet parking and the need at all times to respect the residential nature of the location.
  • Due to the involvement of third parties, the event on the Saturday night appeared to have generated some inter-club rivalry and behaviour of the sort which simply put is totally out of place in a residential area which is not in Soho. 
  • The nature of the activities "suggested" by the Flyers and websites associated with the event last Saturday appeared to be inconsistent with the licensed activities (ie nudity and semi-nudity not allowed).
The key question for both the residents and the licensing authorities is whether or not the licensee is demonstrating adequate management and control of the club.

Flyposting:  Problems associated with the previous licensee were seen to be associated with flyposting with the aim of attracting as many people as possible to the club.

Posters advertising Broke Club were clearly seen in various places between the Club and Victoria Park in connection with the extended licence for the Lovebox weekend. Clearly these are not targeted at the type of customer for the club described by Mr Wilson when applying for his licence.

Broke Club and Broken Disco Flyers 
found in Gunmakers Lane on 28.7.10.
demonstrating the Council's new tactic of 
using a cancelled sticker on all illegal flyposting

Calendar of Events: It was noted that the Private Event on Saturday had not been noted on the Calendar of Events.  Residents expect to know when events are happening even if the details are not advertised on the website.  Residents asked that the calendar be updated to include a "Private Event" notice.

Previous Licensee: The previous licensee has been observed entering the club which gave residents cause for concern.

CONCLUSION:  One resident neatly summed up the overall view.

In the space of eight weeks, the Club is already generating the type of incidents (noise disturbances from music which is too loud and people parking in wrong place and being rowdy during unsocial hours before driving away) which caused far too much grief for far too many residents for far too long under previous licensees.  This needs to stop.

Residents made it very clear that they expect to see a significant improvement in business practices and a major reduction in the negative impact of the Club on neighbouring streets in the next month.

Another meeting will be held at the end of August.

What to do if there is a disturbance

For Information:  These are the Broke Club - Terms of the Licence.  Below is advice on what to do if you experience a disturbance to your quiet enjoyment of the amenity of this residential area.
  1. Call the Council's Out of Hours Hotline for Noise Nuisance during unsocial hours 0207 364 7070.  This operates until 4am.  State where you live, where the noise is coming from and the nature of the noise which is causing a disturbance.  
  2. Call the Council's Anti-social Behaviour Hotline: 0800 917 5918 - This is a 24 hour freephone number. To report any kind of anti-social behaviour anonymously; including verbal and physical abuse and threats, harassment, criminal activity, vandalism, graffiti and damage to property, noise nuisance or continuous environmental health issues. Your information will be passed on to the appropriate council team to report and action if necessary
  3. Call the Police non emergency hotline 0300 123 1212 if people are being rowdy or displaying anti-social behaviour during unsocial hours
  4. Call the Police on 999 if violence or intimidation has taken place as a resut of people going to or coming from club
  5. Make a complaint in writing to Kathy Driver, Acting Principal Licensing Officer for Tower Hamlets Council.  The number of complaints received are influential in determining licensing of premises so it's important people write.  This can be via email to 
  6. Benn Wilson is on call to deal with any queries arising from a disturbance associated with the club. Should you be affected by one and need his mobile number please email us at  Please note we do not operate 24 hours so if you have experienced disturbance and want the number please call NOW! 

Anti-social and rowdy behaviour
which wakes local residents will NOT be tolerated in Mile End
Click the link here to send any information and comments

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