A nightclub which lost a landmark High Court challenge to a decision to cut its opening hours has revealed it will continue to open until 3am with a ‘bring your own alcohol’ policy.
Funky Mojoe, in High Street, South Woodford, last month failed to overturn a council decision to restrict opening to normal pub hours due to crime and anti-social behaviour.
However, the venue has said it will now bypass the restriction by allowing customers to bring their own alcohol to the venue after 11.30pm.
Licensee Kerry O’Reilly, 35, said losing the High Court bid for a judicial review was a “massive blow”, but said the club will continue to work to overcome any problems.
She said: “We never sat down and said ‘if we lose the case we are going to do this and this’.
“We strongly believed we were going to win the case. I’m not going to lie, it was a massive blow - it was very upsetting.
“But we have found a different way of doing it. I have been looking into the concept of bring your own booze in bars for the last few months as it’s always intrigued me.
“It benefits a lot of people, because it is cheaper.
“I would never break my license – and you’d be stupid to.
“This isn’t an ideal situation, but I still have 50 staff I need to employ.
“The council has been very good and we have always worked very closely – Redbridge council do their job and they do it well and they work with the licensees.
“It's not Funky Mojoe vs. Redbridge Council. I have been working with the council since I was 18 at licensed premises and there has never been that big divide.
“I want to work together and overcome these problems.”
Miss O’Reilly said no nightclub or bar works harder to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum and there have been no violent incidents since February last year.
She add: “Noise testing has been done next door and it came back negative – we gave evidence at the case that noise wasn’t the issue.
“No one actually runs a military operation at a venue like we do.
“When [customers] leave they are constantly told to keep the noise down and they’re taken to their taxis.
“We have a whole dispersal plan which is ridiculous – but it works.”
The council’s licensing committee was shown CCTV evidence of violence and antisocial behaviour outside the venue at the decisive hearing last year.
Miss O’Reilly added: “The last time we had any violence here was February 2013 – that was when I introduced scanning and began working with my solicitor on our dispersal plan.
“The council will agree it is the best run venue in the borough – they will tell you that themselves – they said it in court.”
Many of the problems stem from the venue’s location next door to the sheltered housing at Manor Court Lodge.
But Miss O’Reilly hopes they can find some common ground and function together.
He said: “People will always complain and that’s life unfortunately. But it’s about coming to an understanding where both places can exist – that’s all we’ve ever asked for.
“They want me closed – they do not want this venue open.”
As well as being denied a judicial review, the nightclub was ordered to pay the council’s legal costs of £127,000 and denied the right to appeal.
The venue will continue to open until 3am under the new concept on Fridays and Saturdays from March 8.