Brixton businesses ‘worried’ as O2 Academy licence suspension hits takings

The Brixton O2 which is to remain shut for at least another 3 months   (PA Wire)
The Brixton O2 which is to remain shut for at least another 3 months (PA Wire)

Businesses close to The O2 Academy Brixton have reacted with dismay to the suspension of its licence for three months after two people were killed in a crowd crush.

The stairs to the venue remain covered in floral tributes to security guard Gaby Hutchinson, 23, and Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, who died after ticketless fans tried to enter an Asake gig on December 15.

On Monday, councillors voted to suspend the venue’s licence for three months in the wake of the deadly crush.

Aman Wold, owner of cafe bar Brixtonia, said he believed the three month ban was “unnecessary” and would reduce his takings significantly.

He said: “At the weekend, on Friday and Saturday night, a lot of us have definitely noticed the impact already. I would say without exaggeration that on Friday and Saturday we lose at least 25% or 30%.

“On the road you can see it is a lot quieter, especially on weekends. I think it is unnecessary.”

Nearby Japanese restaurant Sushi Revolution has also seen its custom fall and owner Tom Blackshaw said the venue’s closure was harming the local area.

He said: “It is not good timing to lose one of the big draws of people to this area with the cost of living and inflation at the same time.

“The quality of the acts you get there are first class and it will be missed until it comes back, but we’re obviously hoping it could come back and operate safely.”

He added: “When there is a concert on we get a nice number of 20 people in, all in groups of two. We like them because they come to eat quickly and then go straight away. It was good for us.”

Renato Carato is a front of house staff member at Greek eatery Mikos, which he said was missing out on £1,000 it made every night from revellers heading to and from the Academy.

“When it was open, a lot of people would come after the concerts but now it has closed, not many customers come at night,” he told the PA news agency.

“I am worried about the next three months because it will affect the business. So many people used to come before and after the shows when they were going in and coming out.

“We just have to keep going, especially because we are a new place. We have only been open five months.”

Reacting to the suspension, Vauxhall MP Florence Eshalomi said Monday afternoon: “Venues like the Brixton 02 make a huge cultural and economic contribution to our area, and nobody wants to lose that.

“However, public safety is paramount, and the gravity of December's incident must be recognised. I look forward to maintaining dialogue with all parties on the way forward as this situation evolves.”