The fate of Brixton Academy will be decided next month

It’s been eight months since the O2 Academy Brixton was shut down following a fatal crowd crush at a gig. Now, the future of the iconic venue is to be decided at a hearing in September. 

On December 15, 2022, a crowd crush during an Asake concert killed Gabrielle Hutchinson, 23, a security worker, and mother-of-two Rebecca Ikumelo, 33. A 21-year-old woman who was injured at the show also remains in a critical condition in hospital. The Brixton Academy had its licence suspended. 

In April, the Metropolitan Police called for the venue to be stripped of its licence permanently, saying they had ‘lost confidence’ in Academy Music Group (AMG) following the tragedy. 

At the time, the venue operator said it had cooperated fully with the Met and Lambeth Council to present ‘detailed proposals’ that it believes would ‘enable the venue to reopen safely’.

Since then, the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has been campaigning to stop the Brixton Academy from being closed forever, provided it can do so safely. 

The Licencing Review hearing, taking place at Lambeth Town Hall on September 11 and 12, will see arguments from both sides, including testimonies from the public who have been campaigning to keep the gig venue open.

Councillor Mahamed Hashi, Lambeth’s Cabinet Member for Safer Communities, said: ‘Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Rebecca Ikumelo and Gaby Hutchinson who lost their lives, as well as with the person who is still in hospital, and all those suffering the trauma of witnessing such distressing scenes at one of our borough’s live music venues.

‘We are determined to use the powers we have available to us to make sure the lessons of this tragedy are learnt, and that we never see a traumatic incident like this again in Lambeth.’

The NTIA said in a statement that this was a ‘critical time’ for the future of the O2 Academy Brixton, saying it needs ‘as much support as possible throughout this hearing.’

In the lead up to the hearing Lambeth Council received 18,000 letters supporting the reopening of the venue due to the NTIA’s campaign, while a petition to ‘Save Brixton Academy’ currently has over 116,000 signatures. 

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