East London residents must campaign for or complain against their local pubs

The Copperfield Public House recently underwent a management change to reopen as the Catford Bridge Tavern pic: Agnes Bel

Over the course of three weeks, police have knocked on the doors of three pubs in east London with concerns over drugs, violence and licensing offences.

Last week, the Pitlake Arms in Croydon had its licence revoked after police visits revealed there were several complaints about drug abuse and fights. The previous month saw the Public Life nightclub in Tower Hamlets close down over drug and licensing offences.

However, there’s good news from Lewisham: the Copperfield Public House in Catford underwent a change in management after a joint campaign by local community groups, police and the council Licensing teams. It has now reopened as the Catford Bridge, with a “traditional British pub atmosphere”.

As a relatively new resident of London, I see pubs as the best providers for social gatherings and the weekly round of drinks (and surprisingly, vegan options).  The week day atmosphere seems to include loud or mid-ranged music and people seated at tables with a drink. On the weekends, a football match usually means a change in the laid-back ambiance, to something much more charged but where do the seedy pubs fit into all this?

The trouble seems to come with the crowd that you attract – which has more to do with geographical location than anything else. Drug dealers and abusers who are prone to violence are the main cause of concern  but so are those who spill (or get thrown) out on the streets for the ruckus they cause inside.

Even if customers are out the door, pub owners and managers  are still responsible for  their actions as long as they are in the neighbourhood. All three pubs are in residential areas.

It is no surprise then that residents living around the Pitlake Arms  raised concerns over assaults and violence, especially if they saw “blood-spattered walls” and people exiting the pub in more than just a drunken haze.

The groups in charge of reopening the Catford pub need to be commended for their courage. They are managing the pub with the hope that it will attract “new, nicer people” as one local storeowner said.


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