Here’s my latest column for the Muswell Hill Flyer and the Highgate Handbook:
It must be horrible to have drunks vomit over your garden wall, throw estate agents signs into your front porch and to feel threatened if coming home in the dark alone. But that’s the experience of those who live near the clubs at the top of Muswell Hill – and many other places where the alcohol fuelled version of the night-time economy blossoms.
But what can actually be done about it? That really is the big question. It’s one posed by a group of residents who raised with me the constant noise and nuisance caused by drunken souls exiting from establishments near their homes.
There is a right for any of the responsible authorities (police, health and safety, environmental health, fire authority, safeguarding authority) to call for a review of an establishment’s license if there are serious problems of crime and disorder, public nuisance, public safety or protection of children from harm.
If the police are called on a regular basis to stop fights and violence, or serving underage drinkers and so on – then they can call in the license for review and it can be revoked. However, for the drip, drip, drip of local nuisance, vomit, noise, and general disturbance it is very, very difficult to demonstrate that matters are serious enough to justify a review. That’s all the more so when it often isn’t clear which club someone came out of and, in the absence of a police presence, it can be hard to prove the existence and severity of incidents.
The Muswell Hill and Fortis Green Residents’ Association had a public meeting recently at which the Safer Neighbourhood Teams, Haringey’s chief licensing officer, some of the local club owners – and residents – discussed these matters.
My Lib Dem colleague, Cllr Gail Engert speculated that the clubs should put a stamp on customers as they enter their club – so at least it could be established where they had come out of. It was also agreed at the meeting that residents should join the monthly ClubWatch group – which currently is just police and club operators. Working together must be one of the best ways forward.
But the over-arching problem is that since the ending of the requirement for licenses to be renewed each year, residents have lost their annual opportunity to voice their objections and recount their experiences.
I am hopeful that ClubWatch will be the practical and best way forward. But I will be dropping the appropriate Secretary of State a line to point out the very weak position that local people find themselves in and asking what the Government proposes to do to strengthen their hand.