Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Fulham pub closes after feeling unfairly targeted by police

The full page for this story is available here. (Quark will only export as a .pdf, apologies.)

A pub on Goldhawk Road has closed after being met with heavy licensing restrictions, despite members of staff feeling they have been unfairly targeted.

The Raving Buddha, specialising in live DJ and open mic nights, held their last event, a ragga and dancehall night, on Saturday 25 May.

The pub, had a ruling on from the Hammersmith & Fulham Council Licensing Sub-Committee. They said that it was ‘associated with serious crime and disorder’; due to police picking up on three separate instances in one month.

The recent incidents included an arrest of a customer wanted for assault who was carrying seven rocks of crack cocaine; two men arrested on a separate incident with Class A drugs; and three arrests in one evening for GBH.

However, one of the bar staff the Raving Buddha feels that the business was unfairly targeted by the police, when there are other pubs on the road which may also suffer from crime.

Natalia Eagle, 21, said "The police bullied us!"

Taking issue with the first incident - the man wanted for assault - she said that the police were at the Raving Buddha by chance, and happened to see their target inside; as opposed to police chasing the man to the pub (which, she claims, the council statement and local news coverage implied).

The man was on a list of people the staff know to throw out on sight, but he was let in by the bar security. The pub has since switched security companies.

Ms Eagle felt that since the Raving Buddha is has fewer resources to defend itself; the police are making an example of them, when there are instances of pub-related problems in other areas.

"They think that this pub is the reason that people do drugs," said Ms. Eagle. "It's really stupid and deluded."

In light of having their License suspended, the Raving Buddha was given strict guidelines to follow in regards to CCTV usage and customer entrance numbers.

While the council do uphold that venues in the borough should follow key licensing objectives, the scrutiny that Raving Buddha was put under is a unique instance.

Nearby pub, the Walkabout Inn on Shepherds Bush Road, is also known by the police to have violent customers and now does not open on Sundays, following a policy change in February imposed by the police.

Other pubs on Goldhawk Road have been closed down over the last year. The Goldhawk Tavern was closed last November, and was reportedly sold to a developer to become offices; though no change has yet been made.

The Grand Union pub at the end of Goldhawk Road has been closed for the last year after relocating to a new venue in Wandsworth. The land has since been bought, and there are plans to turn the venue into a European gastropub, to open in late May. There is little visible sign of refurbishment on the site.

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