‘Ban cars from Bermondsey Beer Mile at weekend,’ says top brewery

Josh Salisbury (15 July, 2020)

Hawkes Cidery boss Simon Wright is calling for Druid Street to be pedestrianised on Saturday

37827Hawkes Cider, Druid Street

The Bermondsey Beer Mile could face closures if it is not pedestrianised during the weekend, one of its top breweries has warned.

Hawkes Cidery on Druid Street is calling for the road to be made car-free on Saturdays during hours of operation to help with social distancing.

Its founder, Simon Wright, said the Mile needed to be pedestrianised to help with social distancing requirements.

Normal capacity has reduced substantially as a result of the need to prevent coronavirus.

“We’re at least at half capacity of what we can do normally,” said Mr Wright. “Businesses can’t survive on fifty per cent capacity. Unless we have this, it will  make it very difficult to make ends meet, a lot of businesses will go to the wall.”

Mr Wright is calling on the council to ban cars from using Druid St during Saturday, which is the main trading day for tap-rooms on the strip.

He pointed to examples of Westminster Council pedestrianising parts of Soho to allow restaurants and bars to have ‘al-fresco’ eating and drinking.

But seeking to allay concerns from residents, some of whom will live on nearby council estates, Mr Wright said a car-free mile would allow breweries to more closely control the numbers of people drinking outside.

“There’s been a big thing about take-away pints, and having them wherever,” he said.

But having tables out on the road would mean, “we can control the flow of people better. There’s also a safety concern at the moment, with cars going up and down and pedestrians going into the road.

“We’re only talking twelve to eight, it’s not a late night thing. We just feel it’s the safest solution for everybody.”

Mr Wright’s call comes after another Bermondsey Beer Mile business, Affinity, urged its fellow businesses not to open to the public over social distancing fears.

“We know that a huge percentage of people who drink in the breweries in Bermondsey are not from the local area,” said Affinity co-founder Ben Duckworth.

“This is not your local pub with people who haven’t seen each other for ages and are meeting for a socially distanced pint; this is encouraging people to travel from miles away to congregate in enclosed, unprepared spaces.”

Contribute
Druid Street Resident says:

The route tourists have christened the “Beer Mile” has been home to an existing community for several decades, long before the explosion of micro-breweries over the past couple of years. Prior to that, the community happily co-existed with businesses such as garages – many of whom have been driven out of Druid Street. These businesses weren’t able to afford the Arch Company’s steep rent increases like those who find it easier to reach them with their profits from rowdy stag dos that spill out into Druid Street’s residential areas.

When the Anti Social Behaviour stops, often into the early hours of Sunday morning, visitors leave our community scarred with their vomit, urine, broken glass and pizza boxes.

Druid Street has a huge problem with illegal weekday parking by businesses who use it as their personal trading estate. Heavy goods lorries park for hours at a time in the cycle lane, on double yellow lines, often double parked on the street, goods are dumped on the pavement, other motorists are delayed as their path is blocked by men loading and unloading with mini-cranes, engines are often left idling. Yet, we hear no call from businesses to stop this activity throughout the day or to start paying their share of lost parking revenue to a local authority under huge financial strain. We hear no concern about the health outcomes for local children affected by this selfish behaviour.

Westminster City Council’s pedestrianising parts of Soho to encourage socially distanced al-fresco dining is incomparable to the “top breweries” request that Southwark do likewise on Druid Street. Soho has residential populations but they are minimal in the areas these measures are placed in. This is in contrast to the 340+ households that line Druid Street. Westminster would be unlikely to operate the same strategy in the north of its borough, in places like Church Street.

To create significant licensing changes (without genuine community consultation), actively encouraging travel from across the country in the context of a pandemic would be beyond irresponsible.

To inflict higher risk of Covid-19 across our community, in a street (unusually for Bermondsey) with a high BAME population would be hugely damaging now we know the consequences of health inequalities and it would also fly in the face of Southwarks’ promise to address these structural impacts on our communities.

Mr Wright talks about businesses “going to the wall” if they are not allowed to line the street with people travelling from far and wide but many businesses (like his), make most of their profit margin from wholesale to supermarkets and other breweries rather than the rowdy Saturday night crowd, that premises have to pay large staffing fees to serve drinks and manage security.

If another lockdown is enforced because of risky policy changes, not only will we see businesses close again. We will also see an increase in community illness and fatalities. As a resident, I would call on Southwark to think beyond the short term and do the right thing for the wider good.

Liz R. says:

NO! This street is not an alfresco pub.

Liz R. says:

Breweries are for brewing. Cideries are for fermenting. Streets are for wheeled transport. Pavement is for pedestrians. Pubs are for drinking. End of.

Jane says:

Druid st is no longer nice safe place for residents children. Has become over crowded noisy anti social drinking rave. Residential many struggle to cope with noise anti social behaviour.. residents were not asked about closing Druid at NOR about tables and chairs in Druid at that has cars bikes in different directions. If like on Saturday fire broke out and 4 engines arrived how would they get past tables chairs, consuming minutes that are needed to save lives. Southwark Council arch company care about money only not local people and lives destroyed by Beer Rave ??? but stop drunks parties in burgess ?Ignoring local residents ! No democratic decision about Druid at ? Who agreed Beer Mile ? Spreading COVID bring selfish people to area

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