Brixton Academy can reopen Lambeth Council says, but must meet 77 conditions

The venue has been shut since December (PA Wire)
The venue has been shut since December (PA Wire)

Brixton Academy can re-open once the venue has met 77 “extensive and robust” conditions “designed to promote public safety”, Lambeth Council said.

The venue’s licence was suspended last December after the deadly crush when fans without tickets tried to force their way in to a gig by Asake.

Met Police asked Lambeth Council to remove the venue’s licence after the crush claimed the lives of security guard Gaby Hutchinson, 23, and Rebecca Ikumelo, 33.

During the hearing the Met called for a different firm to run the venue.

The Metropolitan Police urged the council to remove the licence after “large-scale disorder” at the scene, with crowds of 1,000 people trying to force their way in.

When the doors were breached the crowd poured into the lobby towards the auditorium and surged over people who had fallen to the floor.

In a statement, Lambeth Council’s cabinet member for safer communities, Mahamed Hashi, said the authority’s licensing subcommittee would permit Brixton Academy to reopen “only once it has met 77 extensive and robust new conditions designed to promote public safety”.

Rebecca Ikumelo was killed in the crush (PA Wire)
Rebecca Ikumelo was killed in the crush (PA Wire)

The conditions include stronger doors, new crowd management systems, more detailed risk assessments, a new ticketing system, a centralised control and command centre and new security and management.

Dr Hashi said: “They were among the measures proposed by (owners) AMG (Academy Music Group) at the hearing to support their aim of regaining the venue’s licence so it can reopen, and making sure we never see a tragedy again like the one there in December 2022.

“At the hearing the council’s licensing officers asked that AMG’s initial proposals were greatly strengthened. This was accepted by the operator. In total 77 conditions have been agreed by the subcommittee to allow reopening.

“The investigation into whether any criminal offences have been committed is being led by the Met Police, and their work continues. Lambeth Council will do everything we can to support this police investigation so that there are answers and justice for the families of Rebecca Ikumelo and Gabrielle Hutchinson, who tragically lost their lives at the Academy in December.”

In a statement, Academy Music Group (AMG), which owns Brixton Academy, said it was “immensely grateful” to Lambeth Council for its decision to restore the venue’s licence.

AMG said the academy would re-open with a series of test events and the timeline for reopening would be announced in due course.

The statement added: “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 through first-hand professional testimony, campaigns, and petitions as well as economic assessments demonstrating the financial impact to the surrounding area caused by the closure.

“Academy Music Group is determined to learn all appropriate lessons from the night of December 15 2022. Working at a senior level with experts across all disciplines, AMG presented a comprehensive, multi-faceted response for the licensing authorities to support their case for the safe and secure reopening of the venue.

“We appreciate having had the opportunity to present these detailed proposals and revised licence conditions at the hearing and we are very grateful they met with the approval of the Licensing Sub-Committee.”

In a statement, Superintendent Gabriel Cameron, Lambeth neighbourhood police lead, said: “Our thoughts today are with the loved ones of Rebecca Ikumelo, Gaby Hutchinson and the young woman who remains critically injured.

“Following the decision of the Licensing Sub-Committee, we will work with the applicant and Lambeth Council to ensure the public can once again enjoy events at the Academy – but in an environment where their safety is paramount.

“It has always been the aim of the Met Police to ensure that the venue is operated safely for the public, and it is run by a licensee who will take all necessary steps to ensure this is the case.

“It has never been our aim to ask for the venue itself to be permanently closed. We absolutely recognise the cultural importance of it and its place at the heart of Lambeth.

“Our investigation to establish the circumstances of what caused the tragic incident on 15 December 2022 is ongoing. We want to thank everyone who has already been in touch with information, and encourage anyone else who was present to come forward and provide any information they may hold.”