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Fabric to re-open

By | Published on Tuesday 22 November 2016


Fabric is set to re-open after a new agreement with Islington Council and the Metropolitan Police was rubber-stamped by Highbury Magistrates Court yesterday. This means that an appeal hearing to discuss the council’s earlier decision to revoke Fabric’s licence, set for later this month, will now not happen.

As previously reported, it emerged last week that Fabric and the council were in “advanced talks” to get the club’s licence reinstated. It was revoked in September, following a temporary closure a month earlier in the wake to two drug-related deaths. A campaign to cover legal costs for the club’s appeal raised over £300,000.

When passing the ruling to revoke Fabric’s licence, Islington Council accused the venue of having a “culture of drugs”. Meanwhile the inquest into the death of one of the men who died at the venue earlier this year, Ryan Browne, found that he had been able to smuggle ecstasy into the club and buy more once inside.

Fabric and Islington Council issued a conciliatory (mainly on the former’s party) joint statement yesterday that 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 accepts that the police acted reasonably in making the application for a review and that the authority’s sub-committee was fully entitled to revoke its licence”.

In order to re-open, Fabric has accepted a fair number of new licensing terms. This includes ID scanning; a new security company; new search procedures, plus new monitoring and external auditing of them; covert surveillance; lifetime bans for anyone found buying or selling drugs in the venue; improved lighting; more CCTV; and barring those under the age of nineteen from the premises on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.

The statement continues: “In light of Fabric’s acceptance that there have been failings, and given the commitment that its directors and management have shown by their development of the operations manual and acceptance of these new conditions, the authority is now satisfied that the statutory licensing objectives may be met short of the revocation of the premises licence. It is for these reasons that it has decided not to oppose Fabric’s appeal”.

The operations manual mentioned there was prepared by the club and presented earlier this month as evidence for the appeal hearing. Fabric has now agreed that it will not re-open its doors until it believes it is able to fully comply with its proposals and the new conditions. How long that may take is not clear.

In a statement, London mayor Sadiq Khan, who had previously urged the club and authorities to find a way forward, said: “I am delighted that this agreement has been reached and that Fabric will now re-open. 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”.

He also revealed that new Night Czar Amy Lamé had “held conversations with Islington Council, the Metropolitan Police and Fabric”.

As part of the deal, Fabric has also agreed to pay Islington Council’s legal costs, with a stipulation that this money not be taken from “the monies pledged by supporters”.

That raises the obvious question, what will happen to those public donations now that they are not required to cover the legal costs of an appeal. At last count, Fabric still had £183,096 of those funds remaining. While two weeks of bashing out this agreement may have further depleted that somewhat, there is still likely to be a significant amount of money.

Fabric’s next transparency statement on the use of these funds is due later today, though a statement issued yesterday did not make clear how soon information on the future use of donations would be released.

Of course, one potential use of the remaining funds is Fabric’s concurrent work to lobby government to change its official guidance on how the Licensing Act should be applied to clubbing venues.