Nightlife in Croydon is suffering from a lack of variety caused by heavy-handed policing, according to frustrated venue owners and residents.

About thirty people attended a public meeting in the town centre last night to discuss the dire state of Croydon’s night-time economy, a debate prompted by the recent closure of the long-standing Tiger Tiger nightclub.

Jan 5: Revellers mourn as Tiger Tiger nightclub in Croydon announces closure

Jan 12: Tiger Tiger shuts its doors as Croydon Council leader Tony Newman denies 'managing away' night time economy

On the surface it might have appeared an unlikely forum to find solutions to the issue; more people were sipping lattes than beer or wine, and a reporter covering the meeting was one of the few present aged under 25.

The lack of ethnic diversity of those gathered was also acknowledged by some participants.  

IN PICTURES PART I: How many of these old Croydon pubs do you remember?

But the ideas and frustrations that emerged from discussions suggested an acute awareness of the problems that face the after-hours landscape of Croydon.

The major theme to emerge was a dissatisfaction with policing; specifically, a perceived bias against venues putting on events playing certain types of music, including hip-hop, grime, and reggae.

The requirement for 'risk assessment' 696 forms made it harder to stage such events, venue owners claimed, and a heavy police presence when they did go ahead unsettled customers and dissuaded them from coming back.

Saif Bonar, owner of town-centre venue Matthew’s Yard, where last night's meeting was held, said: “The problem is the police are over-stepping their remit to control what is going on in the town centre in terms of what types of music there are.

“It’s not necessarily what they do, it’s the way they do it. It’s almost like their engineering this feeling to make it feel unsafe so people don’t go out, to make their job easier.

“It’s not the only problem, but it is a problem.”

Owners of venues such as Alchemy in St George's Walk and Bad Apple Bar in High Street also spoke of their frustration.

One said she had felt “slapped down” by police for trying to do “something outside of the box”.

Labour councillor Mark Watson, while defending the work of police in the borough, recognised that there might be a need for change.

He said: “There might be a risk, but you might need that to create a diverse night-time economy.

"We're concerned that a line of police officers can be off-putting to people, but their view is they want to be on-hand."

The need for greater variety in Croydon’s night-time offering was emphasised by Thornton Heath electronic musician and DJ Plastician.

In a written submission read out by Conservative councillor Mario Creatura, who organised the meeting, the musician said: “The main problem for me is with the venues that have opened in the last 15 years..[are marketed] solely for their drinks offers, attracting posers, there’s no draw to come and enjoy the music.”

Other perceived problems included inadequate transport links late at night, Croydon's “bad reputation”, and a lack of offerings for older people.

There were positives to come out of the meeting: residents spoke of Croydon's "talented" arts community, fostered by institutions such as the Brit School, and a surfeit of parking in the town centre.

But even these plus points were tinged with frustration: too few places for talent to be displayed and insufficient parking provided for disabled people.

Speaking after the meeting last night, Coun Creatura said: "It was great to be able to host so many people passionate about the future of Croydon's night-time economy.

"It's clear from the meeting that there are significant challenges facing Croydon over the next few years, in particular with the support that the council needs to offer people wanting to host diverse and innovative night-time entertainment.

"If we want to make Croydon the place to be then we need to listen to the people at the coalface, trying to help them put on great events that people want to go to."

The state of Croydon’s night-time economy will be discussed at a council scrutiny meeting on February 16.

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