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Brent café stripped of licence after Class A drugs were allegedly found during police raid

A Brazilian bar in Brent where police found Class A drugs during a raid last year has lost its licence. The premises were temporarily shut down last month after police obtained a closure order, however, this looks set to be permanent now following the council’s decision.

Santafé Hall on High Street in Harlesden was served a three month closure notice on December 13 after police claimed it found drugs with the intent to supply. The discovery was made during a series of raids in response to alleged incidents of drug dealing and antisocial behaviour.

Brent Council’s alcohol and entertainment licensing sub-committee opted to strip the bar of its licence altogether at a recent meeting (January 23) – meaning it won’t be able to operate when the closure order is lifted in March. Santafé Hall was slammed for its ‘wilful disregard’ of the licensing rules.

During the raid, police claimed they discovered a number of pills behind the bar where the manager was standing, which they believed to be Class A. The staff member was subsequently arrested for possession with intent to supply, the police investigation is on-going.

A Harlesden Police Sergeant said: “Allowing Santafé Hall to operate in the Harlesden area, in spite of all the reasonable concerns raised, would not only undo all police’s efforts to make Harlesden a safer area, but would seriously impact the wellbeing of the local community. One more crime in the local area attributable to Santafé Hall’s activities, is one crime too many.”

It was one of a number of commercial premises in the area that were issued with closure orders last year. Sefar Café and El Tacoswere both forced to close for six weeks after a court upheld police officers’ claims of ‘antisocial behaviour caused by drug dealing, consumption, and the peripheral crime associated with such’. Three-month closures were issued to Fortune Laundrette and Dry Cleaning and Baraca Hands hair salon following raids.

Councillor for Harlesden and Kensal Green, Cllr Jumbo Chan, supported the decision to withdraw Santafé’s licence and said the closure orders have made a ‘real and tangible difference to life on the street’. He added: “They have helped to decrease anti-social and other criminal activities, and therefore have made [the area] more welcoming to residents and visitors.”

The café previously had a licence to sell alcohol and play music until 4am, however, information from the council’s Nuisance Control Team was also submitted as evidence for why it should be revoked. The team had previously responded to a series of complaints by residents about the loud music coming from the premises – which they claim could be heard outside. One resident described his situation to them as like ‘living in Rio’.

The sub-committee concluded that the evidence went against the requirements for holding a premise licence and may have contributed to an increase in crime and disorder in the area. Santafé can appeal the decision through the courts.

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