lford restaurant’s request for longer hours on selected weekends rejected over crime fears

A popular Ilford restaurant’s request to extend its hours over ten weekends was refused following concerns over an incident involving a firearm.

The owners of Cabana LDN had been hoping to host a series of late-night events, offering live music and alcohol until 4am, between 1st June and New Year’s Eve.

The application would have only altered its licence for select weekends, mainly throughout June, July and August.

Patrons at the Forest Road venue often stay for several hours, so longer opening hours would mean an increase in the numbers of customers served, owner Dapson Talabi said.

But Redbridge Council’s licensing committee agreed with Metropolitan Police that the restaurant’s security and conditions were not “stringent” enough to prevent crime and disorder.

On March 9, a man entered Cabana LDN with a replica gun tucked into his waistband. He was convicted based on CCTV footage recorded in the restaurant and was sentenced to four months in prison.

During a committee meeting on May 15, Dapson stressed this had been a one-off event. His representative, Robert Sutherland, said security staff had not been manning the door as they were helping police officers with reports of an unrelated assault.

In order to “beef up” security and avoid a repeat incident, Cabana staff would search patrons before they entered with a metal detector and, he added.

However, PC Dean Birch, attending the meeting on the Met’s behalf, said he was not confident in the operator, who he called “irresponsible”.

He told the meeting it was more likely the weapon had been “missed” by a bouncer, and an armed man being able to enter was a serious risk.

He said: “What other items are getting in? Drugs? Knives? It could lead to violent crimes being committed, or even deaths.”

Robert Sutherland, who spoke for most of the meeting on Dapson’s behalf, contested the notion it “attracted violent people”.

He said the replica gun affair was the only criminal incident in its two years of operation, except for a situation that involved a victim who knew Dapson entering the Cabana following an unrelated assault.

Cabana had also only exceeded its operating hours once – on 9th March, the same night the armed man entered – which an apologetic Dapson said “would not happen again”. In those two years, it received zero noise complaints and was “generally quiet”.

Robert and PC Birch clashed further over the owners’ future intentions. The officer said live music, late opening hours, and metal detectors were “typical conditions” for a nightclub, but Robert insisted the temporary event notices were not permanent.

The committee refused the applications for each weekend, arguing Cabana’s conditions would “not satisfy the requirement to prevent crime and disorder” – a rule all license holders must adhere to.

As part of a crackdown on antisocial behaviour and violent crime in the borough, Redbridge’s licensing committee has become stricter on premises serving alcohol.

An off-licence in Cranbrook Road was recently denied permission to extend its opening hours after the Met warned it would lead to an increase in street drinking.

Sebastian Mann

Local democracy reporter