fabric to reopen after striking deal with Metropolitan police and Islington council
London's fabric nightclub will reopen soon.
After it emerged that the club was in talks with Islington council and Metropolitan police to have its license reinstated, an agreement was approved today by judge Robin McPhee at Highbury Magistrates Court. The agreement will see fabric reopen with a new set of licensing conditions. The exact reopening date has not been decided.
Philip Kolvin QC, one of the lawyers who's been representing fabric since its license was revoked in September, told the court that fabric "has always set about trying to lead the industry," and has engaged in a "root and branch reappraisal" of its operating procedures.
The 32 new conditions in the agreement have been outlined by fabric and the police in a joint statement, which you can read in full below. They include the use of a new ID scanning system, enhanced searching procedures, physical changes to the club, and lifetime bans for anyone found in possession of drugs or attempting to buy drugs in the club.
One licensing measure that won't be in place is the use of sniffer dogs, which police had tried to enforce at the end of 2014. (That move was later overturned in a succesful appeal.)
Kolvin confirmed that fabric would pay Islington council's legal costs, with the money coming from the club's own coffers and not the £320,000 raised by the #saveculture campaign. He also said that fabric would start a welfare team, formed in partnership with drugs charity The Loop, which will "engage in intervention and outreach inside the club."
The club was planning to appeal the decision by Islington council's licensing sub-committee to revoke fabric's license following the deaths of two 18-year-old clubbers. That appeal, which was scheduled to begin on November 28th, will not go ahead.
After the agreement was approved fabric took to facebook to thank its supporters. "We are hugely thankful to be able to confirm the news that we have won our licence back," they wrote. "We owe everything to our supporters. We really would not be here today without your unparalleled support and generosity. So many different people stepped up to put their voices to our cause, artists from all corners of the music community, fellow promoters who have put on huge events from us and clubbers from around the world who all united behind us."
The joint statement in full:
On 25 June 2016 an 18 year old young man died in hospital after a night out at Fabric nightclub, from the effects of MDMA (Ecstasy). Six weeks later, on 6 August 2016, another 18 year old young man died in similar circumstances.
In both of these cases, the young men and their friends were able to conceal drugs on their person when entering Fabric, and get through the search and entry procedures without being detected. They were then able to purchase, and take, more drugs when inside Fabric.
These two tragic deaths were not the only drug-related deaths of young clubbers visiting Fabric. Since 2011 there have been a further 4 deaths.
On 12 August 2016 a sub-committee of the Authority decided to suspend Fabric's License pending the hearing of the Police's application. Then, on 6 September 2016, after a public hearing of the application, attended by Fabric, a sub-committee of the Authority decided to revoke Fabric's Licence.
The sub-committee concluded, on the evidence then before it, that a culture of drug use existed at Fabric which the existing management and security appeared incapable of controlling, and that a number of conditions on its Licence had not been complied with. It decided that the revocation of the Licence was both appropriate and proportionate in light of all the circumstances.
Fabric then exercised its statuary right to appeal to the magistrates' court, with a four day hearing of that appeal being due to start on 28 November 2016.
There have now been a number of meetings between Fabric's directors and senior management and the Authority and the Metropolitan Police. Fabric has offered many new conditions to be added to its Licence, all of which are designed to ensure a Zero Tolerance approach to drug possession, consumption and sale within the club. It has also developed a new and detailed ISO accredited Operations Manual setting out how compliance with these conditions is to be achieved, from the top to the bottom of its operation.
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. Fabric repudiates the online abuse aimed at Committee members and Council staff and will permanently exclude anyone who has been found to be involved.
Fabric is committed to doing all it reasonably can to ensure that no more of its clubbers come to drug-related harm. It also recognises that there need to be, and will be, changes to its management structure and accountability.
The Authority welcomes Fabric's acceptance of all these matters. It is now satisfied that Fabric's directors and senior management understand precisely what has to be done to ensure that Fabric is a safe environment for young clubbers, and that Zero Tolerance to Drugs means precisely that. The measures to be implemented include:
- The use of a new I.D. scanning system on entry to the club
- Enhanced searching procedures and controls
- Covert surveillance within the club
- Life-time bans for anyone found in possession of drugs, whether on entry or within the club
- Life-time bans for anyone trying to buy drugs in the club
- Enhanced monitoring and external auditing for compliance against procedures
- Physical changes to the club, including improved lighting and additional CCTV provision
- A new Security Company
- Persons under 19 years of age shall not be permitted to be on the premises as a customer or guest from 2000 hours on a Friday until 0800 hours on the following Monday or on any day during the hours that the operators promote a Core Club Night.
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. Fabric Life will pay Islington's costs in these proceedings directly and not from the monies pledged by supporters.
For its part, Fabric understands and accepts that the additional conditions it has agreed to are meaningless unless operational practices ensure each of them is complied with. Its directors and management remain committed to ensuring compliance. They are committed to ensuring the safety of their patrons.
Fabric will not re-open until they believe they can comply with their new conditions.
Neither the Authority nor Fabric will be making any further statement in relation to this Appeal.