Hackney police tell members-only Turkish clubs “get your house in order”

Turkish members-only clubs have been told by police to put their house in order after neighbouring residents said the establishments were making their lives hell.

Police have given the clubs until September to act or face legal action.

Antisocial behaviour is rife along Green Lanes because of the concentration of 11 such clubs - many of which are breaching planning and licensing regulations by opening 24 hours a day, using gaming machines illegally, and allowing “intimidating groups” of men to congregate outside, claim police.

Sgt Sue Wright of the Clissold safer neighbourhood team said they felt the cause was ignorance as opposed to law breaking, and at an educational day licensing, planning and health and safety issues were explained to Hackney’s 36 Turkish club owners.

“Now they’ve been told what to do, grace was given to them to get their house into order in six months,” said Sgt Wright.

The Kelkitliler Social Club, 112 Green Lanes is one of the first clubs to make the move towards operating legally, applying to serve alcohol from 10am to 11pm at a council licensing committee meeting on June 8.

But a police spokeswoman expressed concern about its request to open 24 hours, and questioned what would be going on in the club in the 11-hour period while alcohol was not being served.

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Father of four, Matthew Reynolds, whose Burma Road home backs onto the club, also spoke against the application, claiming there are far too many such clubs in too small a stretch.

“I know this club isn’t responsible for any lawlessness per se, but in the 12 years I’ve lived there the area has changed - there’s been men sleeping in our road in cars, I have witnessed drug deals down the alleyway, I have also found used condoms there and it’s used as a toilet as well.

“The noise levels are intolerable, bizarrely banning smoking inside means the alleyway is used as an outside smoking area and now we can smell the smoke in our living room.”

The council deferred making a decision so police could compile a report on crime and disorder in the area, and at the next meeting the licensing team want the owner Mr Utku – who did not turn up to last Wednesday’s meeting – to explain why they should trust him with a license, seeing as he has been continually breaching planning regulations by already opening 24 hours.

A barrister speaking for Mr Utku suggested shorter opening hours: “The police have no direct link to our premises in relation to crime and disorder nor has environmental health, where the objection comes is for us to remain open for non licensable activities, and that is a matter for planning,” he said.