People have been driven out of the area because they say the interests of business are being put exclusively above those of residents. There has been a steady increase in licence applications over the last year and the issue of alcohol consumption is becoming a concern.
And they accuse Camden and Westminster councils of taking little action to enforce rules to prevent noise in the middle of the night, other nuisances, and blocking of the pavement by street drinkers.
One was actually evicted after objecting to an extension of hours to a licensed restaurant which was disturbing her sleep, and her flat taken over by the restaurant owner.
And another lasted only three months after being subjected to loud noise until at least 4 am every night.
One resident, who has since moved back into a quieter part of the area, showed a seven-minute video to the last Fitzrovia News editorial meeting, to explain why he was driven out originally.
What was most frustrating he said was the “malaise among officers in Camden” when confronted with the evidence. “They were very unwilling to confont [business] miscreants despite infringements of planning and licensing regulations.
“We showed them videos of parties going on until 6am when the licence was to 4am, and huge groups of people on the pavement outside at 2 or 3am when the council officers themselves had said they could have only five people outside at a time. Rubbish is put out at 4am and collected loudly at 7am.
The video also showed people urinating in doorways, verbal abuse, and collapsing in the street.
“Yet the council staff just regarded the residents as a nuisance.
“I gave up after three months and moved, and four others in the same street moved out shortly afterwards.”
Worse, he said, one young woman was evicted after complaining about the noise. “She was evicted after seven years as a flawless tenant after objecting to a licence extension application. She offered a 75 per cent rent rise to stay.”
He showed Fitzrovia News an email from this young woman which said her landlord had said “it’s not an issue of rent from me, they have to keep [the restaurant owner] happy in the interest of business”.
She contacted her local councillor who agreed it was “shocking” but “not always an easy route to prove.”
Westminster Council took action against one public house because of patrons blocking the pavement but the premises concerned was by no means the worst offender.
The Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association, which responds to licensing consultations in the Westminster part of Fitzrovia, has recently heard from a number of people with concern about customers standing on the pavements outside pubs and blocking the pavement, and the sheer volume of people causing noise late into the evening.
One pensioner said he felt intimidated by so many people drinking outside his front door.
“It cannot be right that they are such a nuisance to the neighbourhood and such a danger to local residents or that the right of way should be obstructed and that local residents should have to cross over the road to to get by the crowd, or are in danger of being hit by on-coming traffic.”