Night-time Dalston upsets the long-term locals

© Kathryn Bromwich
© Kathryn Bromwich

EARLY MORNING revellers in Kingsland High Street are making life a misery, say nearby residents.

Despite a council scheme for two wardens to patrol sections of Kingsland High Street late at night, local people say they suffer noise pollution and find urine, excreta, vomit and litter in their gardens as drunks spill out of clubs in the early hours.

Writer Lala Isla, a member of the Rio Cross Residents Association, who has lived in John Campbell Road, Dalston N16 8JY, for 32 years, told me: “You can’t imagine what our nights are like. It’s like they think the street is a urinal. Before, we had disruption just on Fridays and Saturdays; now it’s all week. One Monday there were people screaming at 2am.”

Under the council scheme, local venues contribute to the council’s night-time-economy fund to pay two wardens overtime to patrol busy areas between 1am and 4am on Saturdays and Sundays. Since March, the wardens, in fluorescent yellow jackets, have issued more than 100 fixed penalty notices and warnings for offences such as noise, littering and graffiti.

Dalston ward councillor Sophie Linden said: “The wardens have proved a popular and successful tool in tackling anti-social behaviour.” The Labour member, who holds the council  brief to cut crime, admitted, however, that there will still “work to do”.

Isla said that the association “totally supports” the patrols. She added:  “The problem is that the wardens can’t be in two places at once, so we still have noise.”

The council claims that complaints about street drinking have fallen by nearly 90 per cent over the last two years. Isla said: “Absolutely false. I used to be one of the people who phoned, but now I put in my earplugs, because I am so exhausted of having my nights interrupted. ”

Max Mittmann, Rio Cinema senior house manager, said: “No, if anything things have got worse in the past two years – but now with the wardens it will, we hope, get better.”

The 24-hour off-licence shops are seen as contributing to the problem, as people buy drinks there after the clubs close. Mark Shaffer of local club The Alibi said: “People might pick up some tins from the off-licence and go and sit on a wall and drink outside, especially in the summer, and we have no control over that.”

Shaffer empathises with the residents, saying: “I think their situation is terrible and I want to help.”

He has suggested a wrought-iron gate with a code lock for residents of John Campbell Road, but the idea was not popular. Isla said: “Lots of neighbours were against it. They did not want to be enclosed.”

Shaffer argues that clubs play a valuable community role. “If it weren’t for us,” he said, “there would be a serious crime problem, and there wouldn’t be any retail or restaurants.

“People in Hackney like to go out and have a drink, like to eat and don’t go to bed at 10pm. Yet we don’t want to see Dalston descend into what Camden became — we all want it to be sustainable.”

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