Southwark Council wins Rock Island appeal

12 December 2017

The operator and license holder, Paul Anthony Scarborough from Hackney, saw his appeal dismissed on 21 November, at Camberwell Green Magistrates’ Court. He was ordered to pay £10,000 towards the council’s court costs.

The iconic corner building on the Old Kent Road previously operated as the Thomas a Beckett pub, where Muhammed Ali could once be found sparring in its boxing ring and David Bowie playing in the rehearsal rooms.

However, in later years, the Thomas a Beckett morphed into a 500 capacity nightclub, which blighted the neighbourhood with violence and public nuisance. This led to its closure in 2015, when its licence was revoked.

In January 2017, after two vacant years, Scarborough took over the lease. Despite concerns raised by residents, he secured a licence on the strict understanding that the venue would be run as a restaurant and only as a restaurant.

However, within months, Rock Island lodged a series of temporary event notices and began marketing itself as a late night, alcohol led, party venue. They applied to vary the freshly granted premises licence by:

  • extending the operating hours to 02:30am at weekends and to 01:00am midweek
  • removing the restaurant condition
  • increasing their customer capacity limit by nearly 50 per cent

Cllr Barrie Hargrove, Cabinet Member for Communities, Leisure and Safety, said: “I am disappointed that our efforts to return this famous old building to proper use have once again been derailed. 

“However, the council has been unequivocal about its opposition to the building’s use as a late night party venue. We work hard to maintain a fair balance between ensuring such premises are compliant with their licences, while supporting local businesses and a vibrant night time economy.

“I am glad that our concerns for our residents were represented by the District Judge in this case.”

Page last updated: 12 December 2017