Brixton Academy can reopen after meeting 77 'robust' safety conditions

Brixton Academy will only be allowed to reopen if it meets 77 ‘robust’ safety conditions, council says after two deaths at show last year

  • The venue’s owners said it is ‘determined to learn all appropriate lessons’

Brixton Academy, which closed following the deaths of two people last year, can reopen after meeting 77 ‘robust’ safety conditions, Lambeth Council has said.  

The south London music venue has been closed since the deadly crush where fans without tickets tried to enter a show by Nigerian artist Asake on December 15.

Met Police asked the council to remove the venue’s licence after security guard Gaby Hutchinson, 23, and Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, died and a 21-year-old woman was injured – she remains in hospital in a critical condition. 

The academy’s licence was subsequently suspended for three months by Lambeth councillors who have now voted to restore it after a two day hearing. 

Following the council’s licensing sub-committee’s decision, the venue’s owners Academy Music Group (AMG) said it is ‘immensely grateful’ and is ‘determined to learn all appropriate lessons’. 

Brixton Academy, which closed following the deaths of two people last year, can reopen after meeting 77 ‘robust’ safety conditions, Lambeth Council has said

Following the deadly crush, the academy’s licence was subsequently suspended for three months by Lambeth councillors- who have since decided to restore it

The conditions imposed on the venue include stronger doors, new crowd management systems, more detailed risk assessments, a new ticketing system, a centralised control and command centre and new security and management. 

READ MORE: 50,000 people sign online petition to save Brixton’s O2 Academy after the Met Police urges council chiefs to strip the venue of its licence

In a statement, Lambeth Council’s cabinet member for safer communities, Mahamed Hashi, said the authority’s licensing subcommittee would permit Brixton Academy to reopen ‘only once it has met 77 extensive and robust new conditions designed to promote public safety’.

Dr Hashi said: ‘The investigation into whether any criminal offences have been committed is being led by the Met Police, and their work continues.

‘Lambeth Council will do everything we can to support this police investigation so that there are answers and justice for the families of Rebecca Ikumelo and Gabrielle Hutchinson, who tragically lost their lives at the Academy in December.’

The Metropolitan Police urged the council to remove the licence after ‘large-scale disorder’ at the scene, with crowds of 1,000 people trying to force their way in.

When the doors were breached the crowd poured into the lobby towards the auditorium and surged over people who had fallen to the floor.

A total of 165 security staff were used for the Asake show, the highest number the venue had ever used, the committee was told. 

Gerald Gouriet KC, representing the Met, said the force was not trying to shut down the venue, but believed AMG should no longer be the licensee. 

Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, who died following a crowd crush outside an Asake concert in Brixton

Gaby Hutchinson who was named as the second person to have died after a crowd crush at Brixton Academy in December last year 

Owners AMG, which has operated the venue for 20 years, has done ‘all in its power to analyse what went wrong’ and has spent £1.2 million on maintenance and improvements in 2023, the barrister representing the company, Mr Philip Kolvin, said.

AMG said the academy would re-open with a series of test events and the timeline for reopening would be announced in due course. 

READ MORE: Sons of O2 Brixton Academy crowd crush victim are starting to realise their mother is never coming home, say her heartbroken family – as corporate manslaughter probe is launched

Lambeth Council to ensure the public can enjoy events at O2 Brixton Academy again.

Superintendent Gabriel Cameron, Lambeth neighbourhood police lead, said: ‘It has never been our aim to ask for the venue itself to be permanently closed. We absolutely recognise the cultural importance of it and its place at the heart of Lambeth.

‘Our investigation to establish the circumstances of what caused the tragic incident on 15 December 2022 is ongoing. We want to thank everyone who has already been in touch with information, and encourage anyone else who was present to come forward and provide any information they may hold.’

AGM’s statement said: ‘We continue to be devastated by the events of last December. Our heartfelt condolences remain with the family and friends of Rebecca Ikumelo and Gaby Hutchinson. What happened was and is a tragedy and we are committed to ensuring that it can never be repeated. 

‘Over the past nine months, the venue’s importance to the local community and the live music scene in the UK has been made clear through first-hand professional testimony, campaigns, and petitions as well as economic assessments demonstrating the financial impact to the surrounding area caused by the closure. 

‘Academy Music Group is determined to learn all appropriate lessons from the night of December 15 2022. Working at a senior level with experts across all disciplines, AMG presented a comprehensive, multi-faceted response for the licensing authorities to support their case for the safe and secure reopening of the venue.

A police investigation was launched and the Security Industry Authority opened an inquiry into corruption allegations made after the crush

‘We appreciate having had the opportunity to present these detailed proposals and revised licence conditions at the hearing and we are very grateful they met with the approval of the Licensing Sub-Committee.’ 

Marina Ahmad, London Assembly Labour economy spokesperson and member for Lambeth and Southwark, said: ‘Today will be a challenging day for the friends and families of Gaby Hutchinson and Rebecca Ikumelo, along with everyone else who has been impacted by the crush at the Brixton Academy last December. 

‘I hope they can feel confident that the 77 extra conditions on the licence will prevent future tragedies happening.

‘I will be reaching out to Brixton Academy immediately to be assured that fans can have a safe and fun night out. 

‘I am pleased that our community will retain this iconic venue. I would like to thank Lambeth Council and the police for their work ensuring that music lovers get to enjoy London’s thriving late-night scene confident in their safety.’ 

Florence Eshalomi, MP for Vauxhall, said: ‘I know how popular the Brixton Academy is and the fondness in which it is held as a music venue. 

‘It plays an important role in Brixton’s night-time economy and boosts trade for surrounding businesses. 

‘I am therefore pleased that it will reopen, but this should only happen in the full knowledge that it is safe to do so. 

‘Now that the decision has been made, it is now up to AMG to restore trust with the community and demonstrate their commitment to prioritising safety at all future events.

‘I will be requesting a meeting with them shortly to seek further reassurances over this. It is not yet known exactly when the venue will reopen, given the significant safety enhancements that still need to be made.’ 

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