Club shooting fear sparks hours curb

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[from Islington Tribune]

Islington Tribune – by ROISIN GADELRAB
Published: 1 August 2008

Anthony Raphael: conflict ‘inevitable’

Club shooting fear sparks hours curb

3.30am closure will be ‘devastating’, owner warns

A NIGHTCLUB owner is to appeal against the loss of his 24-hour licence – taken away after police warned a shooting or stabbing was imminent.
Anthony Raphael, who runs Orleans in Seven Sisters Road, Finsbury Park, will be able to continue operating as normal until the appeal is heard. If he loses, a decision to curb club opening hours to 3.30am will stand.
Councillors who reviewed Mr Raphael’s licence on Monday voted two to one in favour of the cut in hours.
Mr Raphael, 55, told the Town Hall panel there had been no incidents of gun or knife crime within his club.
He maintained many of the incidents reported to police happened outside or near Orleans and could not all be linked to the club.
But Islington police licensing officer PC Mark Usher said officers had been called to the venue 58 times in the past 18 months. He wanted the club to shut at 2am.
PC Usher said: “I’ve looked at all the crime reports individually and they relate to these premises. If anything, there’s under-reporting.
“We really support Mr Raphael’s efforts and the way he’s tried to run the club but we don’t see any conditions that can stop violence in the club or in the immediate vicinity.”
Mr Raphael said it was “unfair” to penalise the club for co-operating with police. It had called the police about a recent incident, knowing that it would be brought up at the licence hearing.
“We still made the decision to call the police because we thought it was significant,” he added.
“Over the period the police are talking about we’ve entertained 31,200 people. It’s inevitable that you have a bit of conflict. But the question is how you deal with it.
“In 2001 we stopped serving drinks in glass, we’ve installed CCTV, metal detectors and have SIA [Security Industry Authority]-approved male and female security.”
He claimed that 99 per cent of the incidents mentioned at the hearing took place in the street, not in the club.
“I don’t think we can be described as an accident waiting to happen,” he said. “Putting us back to 2am would effectively put us out of business.”
Speaking after the hearing, Mr Raphael vowed to appeal against the decision, adding: “To have to close at 3.30am will have a devastating effect on our business.
“The decision doesn’t serve justice to the people who work there or to the majority of the punters.”

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