SPIRE was formed in October 2012 in response to a growing problem of alcohol-related anti-social behaviour in Spitalfields. Recent years have seen a large increase in the number of licensed premises in the Brick Lane area. In addition, there has been a recent trend for some visitors to Spitalfields to buy alcohol from off-licences and to drink it while sitting on the streets, often late into the night. This activity, and the dispersal of these visitors when inebriated, through residential areas, inevitably leads to disturbances to the lives of local residents. Noise, vomiting, and other drunken behaviour have become a nightly occurrence.
Tower Hamlets Licensing Department has continued to grant alcohol licences despite being made very aware of these problems. In addition, the council has made no provision of public conveniences in the area. Residents regularly experience patrons of bars and off-licences urinating against their houses. The Metropolitan Police recognise the problems suffered by the area but have so far failed to direct sufficient resources to the area to combat the problem, nor have they managed to limit the number of licenses granted by LBTH.
Frustrated by the authorities’ lack of progress in tackling these problems, several local community groups decided to set up SPIRE, aimed at raising awareness of the situation and persuading LBTH and the police to redress it. SPIRE is a joint initiative by 5 groups which between them represent several hundred local residents. These are:
|– Exchange Building Residents Association|
|– Market Residents Association|
|– St George’s Residents Association|
|– Spitalfields Community Group|
|– Spitalfields Society|
SPIRE is not opposed to the vast majority of bar and restaurant owners who run their businesses responsibly. Not does it wish to discourage those many visitors who enjoy their trips to Spitalfields and who do not disrupt the lives of the residents of the area. SPIRE is made up of people who choose to live in Spitalfields and who love the vibrancy and variety of the area. Its purpose is simply to tackle those irresponsible licencees who operate outside the terms of their licence, to reduce the extent of anti-social behaviour, and to ensure appropriate consideration is given to local residents by LBTH in their licensing and planning decisions.