The owner of a popular Peckham nightclub has said it could be put out of business by new road closure rules designed to help people keep to social distancing guidelines, writes Kit Heren…
Ciaran Canavan, who runs Canavan’s Peckham Pool Club on Rye Lane, has said the closure means that the company that delivers his beer cannot get close enough to drop it off. The club makes a large part of its money from beer sales, he added.
Before the coronavirus lockdown forced pubs and clubs to shut in March, the delivery company would take the kegs into the club and install them for Mr Canavan, 54, who said he has a bad back and cannot lift heavy objects.
But Southwark Council closed Rye Lane to traffic in early July “to allow more space for social distancing for shoppers, cyclists and pedestrians,” according to a statement on the council’s website. There are spaces for delivery drivers to drop off goods for retailers on the road, but these are both hundreds of metres away from the club.
The club is almost out of beer, Mr Canavan said – and the situation is so desperate he is considering meeting the delivery drivers as close as they can come and rolling the beer down Rye Lane to the club himself, despite his bad back.
The club has been running for around ten years, but Mr Canavan is not even sure if he will be able to afford the rent, which is due later this month. Staff numbers have already been cut by two-thirds, from fifteen to five, since the start of the lockdown.
He said: “I feel very let down, to be honest. The way things are going, I think we’re going to go out of business. It’s almost as if they want to drive the final nail into the club’s coffin. I have rent to pay here and I don’t know if I’ll be able to meet my payments.”
Mr Canavan said the council did not consult him about the decision to close the road, and more than ten phone calls since about the situation have gone unanswered. It is unclear when Rye Lane will be reopened to traffic. The council statement says the closure “will be reviewed and monitored on a regular basis.”
While his beer deliveries are a major concern, he is also worried about the possible danger the road closures might pose to people who visit the club – especially women.
He added: “I’m open until 4am… but people can’t get taxis or Ubers to pick them up when they leave. It used to be, we’d help people into their taxis as they left, we’d make sure they get away safely. Now we’ve just got to send them walking away in the middle of the night. I’m worried it’s not safe.”
Responses to widespread road closures in Southwark and across London during lockdown have been mixed. Some people like Mr Canavan have worried about the effect on businesses but others have said that they have found the move liberating.
Dan Cooper, a local designer who has lived in the area for several years, said that closing Rye Lane to cars has made him more likely to visit local businesses than before.
He said: “It’s just so much better and feels a lot safer. Before lockdown, shopping on Rye Lane was a bit of a nightmare because of all the traffic. Now, I’ve made a point of cycling through here as much as possible and I’ll often stop off and buy things from shops on the road.”
Cllr Richard Livingstone, Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport and the Climate Emergency, said:“Local businesses bring character, diversity and vitality to our high streets, and we are keen to support them through these difficult times. We are in continuous communication with Rye Lane traders, as council officers visit daily to address and accommodate individual concerns wherever possible.
“We have for example installed two new loading bays, on Bournemouth Road and Cerise Road. This means that deliveries can be transported to Rye Lane by trolley during the closure.
“These measures are part of a package of available guidance and advice for businesses to help their customers to visit them safely and to operate as securely as possible.”