Bids to halt Brixton new year parties fail

Valentia Place: The Bureau of Silly Ideas is in the arches on the left, the rear of Brixton Rooftop is in the centre
Valentia Place: The Bureau of Silly Ideas is in the arches on the left, the rear of Brixton Rooftop is in the centre

Moves to stop or impose conditions on two new year events in small central Brixton venues came to nothing at a meeting of Lambeth council’s licensing sub-committee last night (21 December).

The Bureau of Silly Ideas (BOSi) in rail arches off Valentia Place and Casa Brixton on Pope’s Road had both applied for “temporary extension notices” to put on one-off events.

Casa Brixton was told, without explanation, that police had withdrawn an objection which had cited “numerous” complaints about the premises and had said that the application for a licence to 6am was “far too late, even for new year’s eve”.

Lambeth council’s own community safety team for the Brixton area had objected to the BOSi event for the “prevention of public nuisance”. Its evidence to the sub-committee mentioned complaints about noise from individuals and businesses.

Stuffed toys on railings in Valentia Place
Stuffed toys on railings in Valentia Place

But Roger Hartley, director of BOSi, told committee members that, while BOSi had been based in the arches since 2002 and he had been there as an individual artist since 1992, complaints had surfaced only around Halloween 2017.

BOSi had been putting in events for most of the time it had been in the arches, he said. Dialogue with neighbours had started after a Halloween party.

One neighbour said he represented Carney Place – which, with Milles Square, is a private gated housing development that backs on to the arches with an entrance on Coldharbour Lane.

Together with local councillor Matt Parr, Hartley had investigated because the equipment used at a BOSi Halloween party had been taken away by its supplier at 2am, but the complaints were of noise at 4am.

Neighbours had agreed that they had made a mistake. And, since then, every time BOSi has done anything after its usual hours, it had emailed the residents’ association.

There had also been dialogue with the local community safety team and efforts to try to get to the bottom of “what exactly is going on”.

“We’re flummoxed,” Hartley told the committee. He is now keeping a log of all events. One, that the neighbouring large Brixton Rooftop venue had complained was “licensable activity” but not licensed, was a birthday party for the 13-year-old daughter of a colleague.

BOSi had also gone to a great deal of trouble and expense to sound-proof its arches premises after meeting the council’s community safety team some time ago, although nobody from the team had taken up an invitation to inspect the changes.

“I could go on,” Hartley told committee chair Vaila McClure, when the time for his presentation ran out.

Answering questions later from her and the two other committee members, Martin Tiedemann and Jennie Mosley, he said that a lot of other things go on in the area.

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ABOVE: Video of parked car near Pope’s Road playing loud music at 3am obtained by the Sleepless Brixton campaign and published by the Blog in October 2017

Asked by Tiedemann: “What is going on with these events?” he mentioned the “guy with a really cool-looking car” who parks it in Pope’s Road outside Pop Brixton and plays pumping music at different times of the night and day. Sometimes Brixton Rooftop became “a bit rowdy”.

The committee rejected the objection to the BOSi new year event and also to another one which had already been cancelled because it was due to take place tonight (22 December).

It said the council’s representation has contained “very little detail” and that its officer had accepted that there were two possible premises that could have caused a problem and that he could not be certain from which it had come.

Earlier, in a long hearing with implications for the controversial plans for two large three-day events in Brockwell Park, the committee rejected demands from Wandsworth council and local residents that a longstanding event on Clapham Common be ordered to reduce the bass volume of music played there.

Witnesses had pointed out that the limits set by Event Lambeth were typical for events in the city and lower than for some.