Residents of a Brent neighbourhood have complained of being ‘too scared to walk home at night’ because of abusive behaviour fuelled by alcohol. One woman claimed she was ‘threatened with a bottle’ for not giving a man her number.
Willesden High Road sits in one of Brent’s many Cumulative Impact Zones (CIZ), which were introduced to combat the most problematic areas of the borough caused by alcohol and street drinking.
However, it appears the measures aren’t entirely working as many locals have said the “high numbers of people drinking” on the High Road has led to them feeling unsafe. One woman said the street has become “difficult to live on” due to the abuse and intimidation they receive.
She said: “This place is full of men catcalling and putting my life at risk. My life has been put in danger many times due to these kinds of men. Previously, I have been threatened with a bottle for not giving my number to a drunk man. I am always scared to walk back home during the night.”
Another claimed that some families are “hesitant to let their children play outside” because of the dangers, whilst one said their family members “don’t feel safe” coming to visit them at home. They say the road has forged a reputation for ‘noise and alcohol abuse’ that is ruining the area.
The concerns were raised in relation to a plan for a new alcohol premises on the High Road. Yavuz Ince is looking to open The Laf, a bistro café that will sell alcohol from 11am to 11pm Monday to Sunday. Plans show tables to serve around 50 customers on the ground floor, with a kitchen, storage, and toilets on the basement floor.
Both the Metropolitan Police and Brent Council’s licensing officers had originally registered their concerns with the plan, however both have since withdrawn them after Mr Ince agreed to a “sensible list of conditions” to mitigate against the issues in line with the CIZ.
Mr Ince’s agent, Dilek Alagoz, wrote to the police and licensing officers to confirm that he accepts the conditions, which include installing CCTV, an intruder alarm with a panic button, a ‘Challenge 25’ policy, only serving alcohol with a “substantial meal” and when seated, and not offering delivery or takeaway.
But residents have reacted with ‘shock and disappointment’ to the application, suggesting that there are already lots of premises on High Road that sell alcohol and opening another will make the situation even worse. In a document submitted to the council, one said: “I am old and unwell and I need to rest. We do not need another place to serve alcohol, this is ruining our streets.”
Another added: “There are a lot of addicts of both alcohol and substance use taking advantage of the alcohol being served till late hours and the addition of a new business is not going to help but worsen this issue. Myself and my neighbours are very concerned about our well being and safety. We don’t feel in safe hands.”
Ms Alagoz does “not think the objections are justifiable” and believes premises would have no cumulative impact on the area. She said the High Road is a “nice area” with no problems with street drinkers and alcoholics.
She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): “If The Laf would be operating as an off-licence market, I would consider the concerns raised by locals and how an off-licence market would affect street drinking and noise issues if there is a real problem at the location.”
She added: “However, The Laf will be a nice dining cafe-bistro. An alcoholic person would not choose a cafe-bistro for binge drinking. Alcohol will not be sold out as take-away, and of course every sensible person refuses to sell alcohol to those who are already drunk.”
Brent Council’s alcohol and entertainment licensing sub-committee will review The Laf’s application at a meeting later this month (November 28) before making a decision on whether to let it go ahead.