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Residents’ anger over Bullingdon “seven-day drinking culture”

A proposal by the Bullingdon to extend its opening hours to 4am from its current 2.30am closing time on Friday and Saturday nights has been voted down by Councillors.

Residents of East Oxford had expressed their frustration over the “seven-day drinking culture” that exists in the area, in response to the Bullingdon’s application to extend its alcohol-serving licence.

The new licence would have meant that events taking place at the club, which hosts popular student nights by companies such as Organised Fun and SE10, could serve alcohol until 4am on Friday and Saturday nights, 3am on weeknights and 1am on Sundays.

Residents of the surrounding area objected to the licence increase, on the basis that the street is a “special saturation policy” zone, which means that Oxford City Council is making an eff ort to reduce expansion of pubs and clubs on Cowley Road to protect local residents.

City Councillor Jamelia Azad told the Oxford Mail: “I already get a lot of complaints from residents living in streets off Cowley Road.

“Residents are being woken up by anti-social behaviour, there’s a lot of noise and I’ve had complaints of people being sick and smashing bottles—it is not just the weekend anymore.

“People should be enjoying themselves until late but in nonresidential areas like the city centre.”

The London Place Residents’ Association, which represents the seventeen homes almost half a mile from the venue, objected due to the noise that an increased licence would inflict on them. They were supported by Councillor Dick Wolff, who said:“It took many years to get to grips with the antisocial behaviour issues on the Cowley Road and the saturation zone has been a crucial part of this.

“It is good that the Cowley Road is a centre for entertainment but at the end of the day it is a residential area and the applicant needs to recognise this.”

In a statement to the public, which also blamed the residents’ disturbance on local students, Thames Valley Police revealed that they are treating the area as “a delicate state… from a policing point of view”.

The police statement expressed concern that the Bullingdon would be treated as a place for people to go after bars in the city centre had closed, causing more noise between midnight and kicking-out time.

It said: “The application would not only allow the existing customer base to consume alcohol for longer but result in increased footfall into the East Oxford area by attracting other late night revellers who don’t want their night to end.

“With a large student presence, concentrated in East Oxford and Headington nearby, and it being more socially acceptable to go out late night drinking for the general public as well, the night time economy is now a seven-day a week occurrence.”

SE10, who run a number of student club nights at the Bullingdon, appealed on Facebook for support for the licence extension. Their post described the application as “such a reasonable request” and said it was “crazy it hasn’t happened sooner”.

The residents’ opposition also provoked scorn from students living near to Cowley Road. Romain Civalleri, a second-year Balliol student who lives on Union Street, said: “I am pretty sure that the whole disruption part is completely overblown. Cowley remains much calmer than central Oxford where all the clubs are concentrated.

“Even though I can understand that the direct neighbours of the Bullingdon may have complaints, the area is hardly littered with passed-out students every night.”

The Bullingdon, which has been running live music events for over twenty years, describes itself as “Oxford’s leading independent live venue and favourite cocktail bar”. It did not respond to requests for comment.

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