A bar by the Thames Barrier has been told to close for a month after reports of violence and allegations that gang members were bribing door staff so they could bring in guns.
Greenwich Council has suspended the licence of Hayatt Lounge, a shisha lounge with a bar and restaurant on industrial land at Westmoor Street in Charlton.
Police constable Mark Evans told a licensing meeting last month that there was “very reliable” evidence that criminal activity had been taking place in the venue until recently.
PC Evans said: “There are gangs who are entering the premises, that are paying the [door staff] to enter the premises, using the premises for criminal activity, ie, selling drugs whilst inside the premises, the bringing in of firearms, the bringing in of potential weapons such as knives.”
The venue’s general manager, Gemma Creamer, general manager of Hayatt Lounge, said that “almost any” venue in London could host individuals suspected of disorder or being in gangs.
She said Hayatt Lounge had since taken additional steps to ensure its customers’ safety including bag and body searches using metal detectors and ID checks.
Creamer said: “As a business, we prioritise the safety of our customers in this premises, and we do all that we can to ensure every individual coming into this premises is safe from the start, from when they come in, to when they leave.”
She said that she would not be involved with the business if she had any knowledge of drugs being dealt in the bar.
The licence was reviewed after a series of incidents in June this year. It had also been the subject of noise complaints from neighbours, including from residents of flats across the Thames.
James Rankin, a legal representative for the Metropolitan Police, said that a “disproportionate” number of events had brought Hayatt Lounge to the attention of the police.
Rankin described a “large scale fight”, which he said took place on June 10, with staff losing control of the sitation. He said: “The customers are raining blows on each other. The shisha pipes are being used as weapons, the shisha bowls are being used as weapons and it’s perfectly clear that customers are being assaulted as well.”
He said a brandy bottle was smashed in the face of a woman on June 18, but staff did not call an ambulance and the victim had to make her own way to hospital. Creamer disagreed that a bottle of Hennessy had been used to attack a customer, but admitted that the situation could have been handled better.
Rankin said a further assault happened on June 20, when a fight between two women led to one receiving a bruised head and bites on her breast.
Creamer said: “I want to highlight that an incident like that has not been seen to take place before at such a high level, and these incidents on the 18th and 20th are isolated incidents that haven’t taken place before.”
The licensing committee said in its decision, published last week, that the Hayatt Lounge’s licence would be suspended for a month. They also said the current designated premises supervisor for the venue must be removed, as well as imposing additional conditions to the licence such as digital cameras at the entrance and metal detectors.
Joe Coughlan is the Local Democracy Reporter for Greenwich, based at MyLondon. The Local Democracy Reporting Service is a BBC-funded scheme to help boost coverage of councils in the local media.