The Brixton Academy has been given the green light to re-open by Lambeth Council’s licensing sub-committee, but only once venue operator the Academy Music Group has met 77 conditions to ensure the safety of both concert-goers and employees.
That decision was made on Friday following a two day hearing at the start of last week. At that hearing, London’s Metropolitan Police re-stated its position that – while it didn’t want to see the Brixton Academy permanently close – AMG should not be allowed to run it.
The south London venue has been closed ever since the crowd crush incident at an Asake show last December which resulted in two deaths. The police have been critical of AMG’s response to the tragedy and it emerged in April that they were proposing that the Live Nation company’s licence to run the building should be revoked.
For its part, AMG insisted that it had presented a solid proposal for how it could safely re-open the venue, with new measures in place to ensure last December’s crowd crush could never be repeated. At last week’s licensing hearing, a legal rep for AMG went through those proposals in more detail, while a lawyer speaking for Lambeth Council itself said that officials at the local authority considered those proposals to be “comprehensive and robust”.
However, it was for the licensing committee to ultimately decide whether to allow AMG to re-open the venue. After some deliberation, they decided that AMG should retain its licence to run the Brixton Academy, but subject to the various operational changes that were discussed during the licensing hearing.
On that decision, Councillor Mahamed Hashi stated: “At the hearing the council’s licensing officers asked that AMG’s initial proposals were greatly strengthened. This was accepted by the operator. In total 77 conditions have been agreed by the sub-committee to allow re-opening”.
Among the changes proposed by AMG which are included in those 77 conditions are “stronger doors, new crowd management systems, more detailed risk assessments, a new ticketing system, a new centralised control and command centre as well as new security and management at the venue”.
Alongside its decision, the licensing committee also stressed that its role was simply to decide whether to allow the Brixton Academy to re-open, not to reach any conclusions about the events that unfolded there last December.
Hashi added: “In making its decision the sub-committee was clear that its role wasn’t to assign blame or punishment on individuals or other bodies for past failings. It is not to exonerate them either. The investigation into whether any criminal offences have been committed is being led by the Met Police, and their work continues. Lambeth Council will do everything we can to support this police investigation”.