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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Chandos Community Centre gets licence application refused

An East London community centre has had a licence application refused after parents from a nearby nursery had 'serious' concerns over its plans to serve alcohol as it would be close to where children play.

Anita Foreman, the secretary of the Chandos Community Association, was applying for a new premises licence for the Chandos Community Centre in Stratford, East London.

The community centre previously held a club licence under a charity called the Chandos Centre Social Club Limited. However, it was removed from the charity register in May 2023 and by January 2024 the licence had expired. Under the plans, the centre’s opening hours were set to be 12pm to 11pm (Monday to Thursday), 10am to midnight (Fridays and Saturdays) and from 10.30am to 10.30pm (Sundays).

The supply of alcohol was set to be from 5pm to 11pm (Monday to Thursday), 5pm to midnight (Fridays), 10am to midnight (Saturdays) and from 10.30am until 10.30pm (Sundays). Mrs Foreman described the centre in council documents as a ‘vibrant hub’ for the local community which offers a range of activities throughout the week including Karate lessons for children, salsa dance classes for adults and a karaoke night on Sundays.

She went on to say that the centre hosts charity events for important causes such as Help for Heroes and Macmillan Cancer Support and there are bingo sessions for the elderly, which Mrs Foreman said has helped to combat loneliness and isolation. She said the centre would be hosting a majority of events in the evenings and weekends and that Busy Angels Day Nursery, which is nearby, would be closed during this time.

A number of residents in support of the plans said the centre should be allowed to reach its ‘full potential’ having hosted a number of diverse events that have bought the community together. However, dozens of parents had signed letters which called for the plans to be refused because they were ‘incompatible and conflicting’ with the nursery.

Parents were concerned as the car park and building are shared by the centre and the nursery, and were worried about ‘serious’ safeguarding issues and anti-social behaviour (ASB) that could be brought on by people drinking alcohol. During a meeting with Newham Council’s licensing sub-committee last week (30 April), Ian McConnell from Environmental Health said he had concerns about residents being impacted by loud noise coming from the venue, which has single-glazed windows.

He said: “The applicant intends to prevent public nuisance by relying on the CCTV, but I’m concerned about the breakout of loud music from the hall and bar area. [There will be] loud voices and shouting from customers using the outside areas, noise from customers loitering outside when events are finished and noise from clearing up after the event is finished.”

A resident who was against the plans claimed the area has recently struggled with anti-social behavioural issues and claimed drug addicts had been loitering in the car park. They added: “…our area is struggling with a rubbish issue and I think that will be exacerbated by an increase in traffic and people visiting the centre, ultimately we have experienced events taking place at the community centre several years ago… they did not end particularly well.

“Fundamentally I don’t have an issue with the community centre being run for Karate, for OAP bingo and for things that make a community a strong community but I don’t necessarily believe alcohol needs to be on the premises for those things to take place.”

In response to this, the vice-chair of the community centre said drug addicts were able to get into the car park because there wasn’t a padlock on the gate and said, ‘we had no control’.

He added: “We are looking with working with the nursery to have it locked… so they can’t get into [the car park] and [will have] CCTV put in the right place so police can use that and deter drug users.” However a resident said their concern was ‘purely based on the alcohol licence’ being so close to the nursery and being on a quiet residential street.

They said: “I think there is space for everybody and there should be space for everybody to do all of the things that they should be doing, but it’s the alcohol licence we are worried about, not the use of the centre which I think is personally great.”

The community centre said it just wanted a chance to revive the venue for the local community and for everyone else who wanted to enjoy it.

However, a representative of the nursery who was at last week’s meeting said a number of parents had approached her with concerns about the plans. She said even though the centre previously had a licence to sell alcohol, the nursery didn’t notice it as much because it was ‘hardly open’ and wasn’t busy.

After an intense discussion which lasted over two hours, the licensing sub-committee adjourned the meeting to make their decision in private. The committee returned to the council chamber to announce they had refused the application.

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