All-night “car bars” disrupt Shoreditch residents

Residents say the night-time economy is shifting away from Old Street Roundabout towards areas like

Residents say the night-time economy is shifting away from Old Street Roundabout towards areas like Shoreditch High Street, edging ever closer to residential areas in Tower Hamlets. Picture: Holly Chant - Credit: Holly Chant

Complaints of all-night “car bars” and anti-social behaviour from party-goers in Shoreditch have led to increased police patrols in the area.

Shoreditch party-goers near Shoreditch High Street Station and Box Park. Picture: Holly Chant

Shoreditch party-goers near Shoreditch High Street Station and Box Park. Picture: Holly Chant - Credit: Holly Chant

Shoreditch residents, many from in and around the Boundary Estate in Tower Hamlets, report ongoing anti-social and criminal behaviour by people frequenting bars on the weekends.

Resident and member of the Weavers Community Action Group (WCAG) Jonathan Moberly lives up the road from the Boundary Estate situated near the border between Hackney and Tower Hamlets.

He says it is the worse affected area: “People are not being disturbed by the clubs themselves, it’s the club goers who use the residential streets and the free car park.

“They come out, start ‘pre-loading’ at six in the evening, go out clubbing and, when the club shuts, they go back to their cars and the party continues.

“It’s car bar activity. You get people selling drugs, nox and all sorts - and the black market economy continues to fuel it through until dawn.“

Jonathan once ran a venue on Old Street called the Foundry and is the chair of the Weavers Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) Panel which is meant to act as an interface between the police and community.

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He says the Shoreditch party scene in Hackney is edging closer to residential areas situated mainly in Tower Hamlets and, that disruption caused to residents is worsening having become an ongoing problem two years ago.

“Activity has really shifted onto Shoreditch High Street itself which has become the real focus,” he said.

“Its shifting because the business has moved and our big fear is its going to carry on.”

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Jonathan says he and other residents have witnessed open drug taking, dealing and public urination.

Footage taken by a resident from July 31 and widely circulated on social media even shows an alleged “fifty strong fight” on Calvert Avenue.

Jonathan also mentioned speaking to a local shopkeeper who witnessed a separate incident on the same night and the Weavers group reported collecting 182 used nitrous oxide or laughing gas canisters from Calvert Avenue the next morning.

In addition, one resident was allegedly racially abused when she asked four women not to urinate on her doorstep.

But Jonathan says the problems disappeared during the coronavirus lockdown only to return with a “vengeance” once bars reopened on Super Saturday in July.

“As soon as lockdown happened and the clubs shut the problems disappeared and, for a few months, people could have a decent nights sleep on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tower Hamlets Council has listened to residents’ reports about the issues in and around Boundary Estate and has taken actions to address concerns.

A council spokesperson said: “Over the last two weekends we have worked with partners to ensure ongoing patrols of the area, including from council-funded police officers and Met Safer Neighbourhood Officers.

“So far, 366 fines have been issued worth between £23,990 and £46,610.”

Fines were issued for parking violations, public urination and anti-social behaviour, including dispersing large groups gathering.

The spokesperson added: “We know that anti-social behaviour is a top concern for residents and will continue to work closely with all of our local partners to tackle these issues, including close cross-borough working with Hackney.”

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Residents are “impressed” with the increased police presence since the Calvert Avenue brawl but wonder how many more weekends it will be maintained.

More police in the area has “quietened things down,” Jonathan said.

“But the parties start up as soon as the enforcement officers’ shifts end at about 2 or 3am”, He told the Gazette.

He worries the level of policing is not sustainable and says it feels “like a piece of theatre”.

The SNT chair suggests smaller, regular patrols, increased parking restrictions and more traffic wardens on the beat.

Weavers Community Action Group was set up in 2018 after drug dealing became a daily occurrence around Colombia Road. The groups community efforts helped spark a Met Police investigation which uncovered four drug lines in 2019.

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Hackney Council and the Metropolitan Police have been contacted for comment.

Follow WCAG on twitter @WeaversCAG