Events venue Oval Space loses licence after shooting

12:50 PM September 29, 2022

An events venue in Cambridge Heath has lost its premises licence after a man opened gunfire there last month.

Oval Space in Cambridge Heath has had its licence revoked by Tower Hamlets Council following the incident at a Notting Hill after-party on Tuesday, August 30.

In the police’s licensing review application, the Met said officers believe a firearm was discharged in the venue before a man was chased into Temple Street and shot twice.

The victim was rushed to hospital and put under armed guard.

In a licensing sub-committee meeting on Tuesday evening (September 27), police claimed Oval Space had become “controlled by gangs”.

PC Mark Perry, of Tower Hamlets Police licensing, said: “This is a venue that has been used by gangs and to an extent is controlled by gangs. This is why fights are taking place, why people are bringing in a firearm and swords and the management have kept silent and not informed police.”

PC Perry accused the venue of being “poorly-run, with weak and incompetent staff and management”.

Police provided the council with a timeline of events about the night of the shooting.

The Met said a man, believed to be carrying a firearm, was allegedly allowed to bypass security and skip the queue before entering the club through a VIP entrance.

The man was a friend of the promoters, according to police, was embraced by security with a hug and was not searched at the VIP entrance. 

Police said that at 3.46am “suspect with bucket hat with the firearm again greets a member of security who is undertaking searches. No search takes place, a barrier is removed and he is allowed into the venue without being searched.”

They add that less than ten minutes later, the man passes a bag allegedly containing the firearm to a group of people who move toward the dance floor.

Two people from the group put on balaclavas and join the others at the bar and the masked individuals order a drink.

After seeing the victim on the dance floor,  police said that at 4.10am: “One of the individuals who is wearing the bag puts on a glove and seems to be reaching into the bag.

“He turns and walks through the club and up to the victim. Shortly after an arm is raised and we believe a shot is fired hitting the victim.”

The victim escaped through a fire exit and was chased into Hackney Road and Temple Street, where he was shot in the legs.

Representing Oval Spaces Limited, lawyer Paddy Whur told the committee Dean James, owner of Oval Space and nearby Pickle Factory, was unaware of what had happened as a member of senior management did not inform him about the shooting until a summary review was launched.

Mr Whur said: “Once that happened, the police investigating this issue as a crime had been provided with all of the CCTV footage from the premises. It’s significant, clear and will assist the police in solving what were serious criminal offences taking place at the premises.”

The owner of the venue rejects claims that he had allowed it to become a “gang premise”.

Mr Whur added if Oval Space was to close, 50 to 70 jobs would be at risk and pleaded with the committee not to rush their decision as it is a “very complex and serious case”.

Last week, a petition was launched to save Oval Space from closure and has amassed around 1,700 signatures.

Oval Space has sacked the security company and proposed reduced licensing hours that would only cater for corporate events.

However PC Perry presented other incidents which had occurred inside the venue including a fight in 2019 and an alleged stabbing on the dance floor in February 2020.

Police told the venue in February 2020 to put further measures in place to improve security such as an ID scanner. But PC Perry said the venue had failed to go ahead with the conditions.

Committee member Cllr Shubo Hussain asked the venue: “What I can see there has been incidents and logs over a long period of time – why did it take a shooting to actually rectify this?”

Mr James responded: “We honestly felt there was a much better relationship and we had taken the right steps and those things had seemed to be working.”

The committee decided to revoke the premises license of Oval Space.

The Metropolitan Police has been contacted by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Oval Space has been contacted for comment but did not respond at the time of publication.

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