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Brixton Academy to reopen following review

Academy Music Group will continue to operate the London venue subject to 77 new safety conditions

By IQ on 16 Sep 2023

Brixton Academy

Academy Music Group (AMG) will reopen Brixton Academy for a series of test events, after having its license reinstated subject to 77 new safety conditions.

The decision comes following a two-day licensing review of the 5,000-capacity London venue earlier this week.

In a statement published on Friday (16 Sept.), councillor Fred Cowell, chair of Lambeth Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee, wrote: “we have come to the conclusion that we do, now, have confidence that AMG can operate the Academy safely and any failures in the past…do not require us to take the view that AMG must not be permitted to hold the premises licence.”

The new licensing measures proposed by AMG and accepted by the committee include stronger doors that cannot be forced open by a crowd, the replacement of the divisional manager and venue manager who were in position on the night, enhanced risk management, an Event Management Plan for each show, and closer liaison with police and the licensing authority.

“We have come to the conclusion that we do, now, have confidence that AMG can operate the Academy safely”

Additional measures include employment of a new security team provided by Showsec (replacing AP Security), a new medical personnel contractor, upgraded CCTV inside and outside the venue, a new phased queue outside the venue, enhanced radio systems for personnel and bodyworn cameras, more external lighting and an external emergency tannoy system.

Cowell’s statement says, “The robust, far-reaching and enforceable measures…will result in the Academy being among the most highly regulated licensed venues in the country. In our assessment, with the addition of the 77 conditions…the events of 15 December will not be repeated, and the Academy can safely re-open for the good of the live music loving community in Brixton and beyond.”

Lambeth Council’s decision referenced the large numbers of trade bodies, live music bodies and individuals who spoke in support of the venue and AMG, with over 100,000 having signed a petition for the venue to reopen. AMG’s case was also supported by several local business owners, who say footfall in the area has dropped 19% in the time the venue has been closed.

Music Venue Trust welcomed the decision and stated: “We look forward to supporting all those involved in the safe, successful relaunch of this iconic venue.”

Michael Kill, CEO of NTIA says, “This achievement owes much to our collaboration with the local community, artists, and devoted fans. Together, we have showcased the resilience and unyielding spirit that define Brixton and its dynamic music scene. We are indebted to each and every individual who signed petitions, participated in meetings, and voiced their support through various avenues.”

“The commitment we give to work in close partnership with all the responsible authorities as we reopen is a serious and sincere one.”

In tandem with the license review, AMG applied to allow standing on the 1,000-capacity venue balcony, a condition which was approved at the same hearing.

The Metropolitan Police is still conducting a criminal investigation into the 15 December incident when two concert goers lost their lives in a crowd crush is still ongoing, and during the hearing had requested AMG be removed as the venue’s operator.

Cowell’s statement said: “We expect there will also be inquests, and possibly civil proceedings, that will fully investigate the details of the incident and will seek to determine culpability and apportion blame, whether criminal or civil or both. If justified, punishment and compensation may follow from those other proceedings.”

In a statement after the council’s decision, AMG said: “We are immensely grateful to Lambeth Council and Lambeth Licensing Sub-Committee.

“We continue to be devastated by the events of last December. Our heartfelt condolences remain with the family and friends of Rebecca Ikumelo and Gaby Hutchinson.

“What happened was and is a tragedy and we are committed to ensuring that it can never be repeated. Over the past nine months, the venue’s importance to the local community and the live music scene in the UK has been made clear.

“Academy Music Group is determined to learn all appropriate lessons from the night of 15 December 2022. As the Licensing Sub Committee knows, the venue must implement all the new conditions and will reopen at first with test events.

“The commitment we give to work in close partnership with all the responsible authorities as we reopen is a serious and sincere one.”


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