Police fear opening Dalston venue would see crime rise and its barbecue would ‘attract street drinkers’

The old Morna Lounge venue off Gillett Square. Picture: Google Maps

The old Morna Lounge venue off Gillett Square. Picture: Google Maps - Credit: Archant

Police fear the opening of a basement venue in Dalston could see crime return to the levels seen when it was a troubled nightclub – and say installing a barbecue would attract street drinkers from Gillett Square.

Councillors on the licensing sub committee will tomorrow decide whether to grant a premise licence for Basement in Kingsland High Street.

The building in question, down a side street and facing Gillett Square, used to house Morna Lounge. The club was stripped of its licence in December 2017 after police complained of "wholly inadequate" security measures.

Officers said they had been called to the venue "numerous times" and had seen knives taken in and one man leave with a gun in his waistband.

Following a reported dip in anti-social behaviour (ASB) and crime, they now fear if it reopens as an entirely different venue described as a "social space", the same clubgoers would return.

Licensing cop Pc Dave Atkins wrote in a report ahead of the meeting: "Should there be a new licence granted it is the opinion of police that previous clientele will attempt to re-establish themselves in the venue and the drop in ASB and crime and disorder since its closure will begin to rise again."

He said police had met the applicant Keshia Riley-Douglas to discuss their concerns, which also include plans for a barbecue inside the venue serving food until 1.30am.

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"There appears to be very little space at the front of the venue to incorporate a barbecue and staff whilst effectively searching prospective customers," Pc Atkins added. "The use of the barbecue at the venue is likely to encourage attention from street drinkers in the area, whether or not this is who this is aimed at."

The application described Basement as: "A social space for light bites like (chips) as well as drinks on a daily basis while hosting retro games, like dominos and cards and music entertainment."

It added: "We will serve jerk chicken and corn from 11pm until 1.30am on Fridays and Saturdays. Served on bbq within the entrance on the left."

The licence would see the venue open until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays, and midnight every other night. Ms Riley-Douglas will need to show the venue will not add to the cumulative impact of licensed premises in the area, which falls inside the Dalston special policy area.