Streatham khat shack shut down
The unauthorised sale of a legal stimulant used by Somalis has been stopped following an outcry from neighbouring businesses.
Khat was being sold and consumed at a garage at the rear of the Indian Ocean restaurant on Streatham High Road near an award winning jazz club and Streatham Business Centre.
But earlier this month the council and police stepped in to shut it down because the business was not abiding by trading legislation and because of complaints about noise and anti-social behaviour.
Khat, green leaves chewed in east Africa, is popular in the Somali community, but many believe it responsible for social breakdown.
The 'khat shack' is believed to have been opened after another one closed in Gleneldon Mews in August when a man was stabbed to death near it.
The drug is legal in Britain, but banned across America, Canada and most of Europe.
Frances Strachan, manager of the Hideaway, said she was glad the 'khat shack' had been shut down.
Ms Strachan said: "Eventually something got done but it was only because people were screaming and screaming and screaming.
"It was only because it was relentless."
Councillor Jack Hopkins, cabinet member for community safety, said the police visited the premises over the first weekend of October and the owner agreed to close the rear access.
Coun Hopkins said: "Once residents and business owners highlighted their concerns about this issue council staff visited the site and confirmed the unauthorised use of the rear of the premises.
"Letters were sent warning the business owners to stop the trade otherwise formal action would be considered."
Lee Alley, chairman of Streatham Business Board, said customers chewing khat there had put people off visiting the jazz club and harassed business people.
Mr Alley said: "It did not just bring an element of criminality down but also the quality of the area."
The latest closure was not linked to the murder, but police acted on concerns about illegal trading and anti-social behaviour.
A Lambeth police spokeswoman said: "The local Safer Neighbourhoods team continues to monitor the area and remain vigilant while on their patrols."
The Streatham Guardian attempted unsuccessfully to speak to the owner of the Indian Ocean restaurant.
To report antisocial behaviour contact the Safer Lambeth Partnership Antisocial Behaviour Hotline on 020 7926 4000.
Alternatively contact the St Leonard’s Safer Neighbourhoods Team on 020 8721 2621.