On Tuesday 6 September, Islington Council’s licensing committee meets to discuss the future of the fabriclondon nightclub, which was indefinitely closed last month following the tragic and drug-related deaths of two teenagers.
As the club’s local MP, I have today written to the licensing committee defending Fabric as one of the great cultural institutions in our borough, and expressing my strong view that it must remain open. Here, I want to explain why I want to #savefabric.
As a parent, my heart goes out to the family and friends of anyone who has lost loved ones at such a young age, with lives ended before they have even begun. But we must guard against the assumption that dangerous drug use would cease simply if we were to close a nightclub like Fabric.
Fabric has been an Islington institution since it first opened its doors nearly seventeen years ago. Voted the world’s number one nightclub on numerous occasions, Fabric has welcomed over six million visitors from around the globe since 1999, offering a unique and iconic blend of music.
Whilst it may not be to everyone’s tastes, Fabric has huge cultural significance to an entire generation – a generation too often ignored and overlooked by politicians and policy makers.
Each and every one of us have our own view of what makes Islington special and what puts our borough on the map, but for hundreds of thousands of young people – both at home and abroad – it is Fabric.
That is why the Save fabric london campaign has attracted such broad support, from icons of the nightclub scene Carl Cox, Pete Tong, Annie Mac, Sub Focus and Professor green to the likes of Irvine Welsh and even the Royal Albert Hall.
Of course Fabric is not perfect, and as with every nightclub, it faces a constant battle to contain and minimise the drug taking that is, unfortunately, part of nightclub culture.
Nevertheless, Fabric is clearly not alone in facing these challenges, and for many years now it has led the way for other nightclubs in terms of drug prevention measures. Indeed, just seven months ago a judge referred to Fabric as a ‘beacon of best practice’.
It has two on site medics, the highest ratio of security guards to patrons of any nightclub in the UK and a pioneering drug seizure programme, which ensures that every visitor is searched, and any drugs that are found are confiscated and logged.
Given this drug seizure programme was apparently developed in conjunction with the police, it is all the more shocking to discover that the logs of these confiscated drugs are now to be used as evidence against Fabric at the licensing committee.
Whilst it is obvious that more must always be done to address the issues facing Fabric and other nightclubs in London, surely the answer cannot be to simply shut them down and drive this culture underground, into the hands of people organising illegal raves with zero oversight, security or medical support.
What we need is for club owners and the police to work together, not against each other, in order to make whatever reasonable and appropriate changes are required to mitigate the risks as much as possible.
Having met with the owners of Fabric just this week, I have every confidence that they are ready and willing to do exactly this. However, some of what is being asked of them seems to me to be neither reasonable nor appropriate; the expectation to change both the club’s name and the type of music it plays cannot be justified.
I was also extremely concerned to learn that – despite being sent weekly reports by the management of Fabric detailing the times, locations and descriptions of those dealing drugs in the area around the club – even when the police have arrested suspects as a result, prosecutions have been dropped.
I appreciate the licensing committee has a very difficult decision to make on Tuesday, but whilst the question of safety must remain paramount, I sincerely believe that the closure of Fabric cannot be the answer. It may be easy and, in some quarters, it may be popular, but that does not make it right.
If you want to add your voice, please sign the petition to Save fabric london at https://www.change.org/p/save-london-s-nightlife-stop-the-c…