Dominoes and the battle of market square
Full injunction bid to impose Maida Hill ‘anti-social behaviour’ curbs
26 March, 2021 — By Tom Foot
A GROUP of dominoes and backgammon players are locked in a dispute with Westminster Council over an injunction that could ban them from a square for more than a year.
The group, mainly pensioners, are challenging the council’s application for a full injunction at the Maida Hill Market square that they believe leaves them open to a court summons and heavy fine just for socialising in the public space.
Westminster was granted an interim order in January that expired yesterday (Thursday) but is now applying for a full injunction to impose anti-social behaviour restrictions for at least a year.
The council said “large gatherings” often late at night had begun during the Covid-19 lockdown and residents had also faced regular “noise and disruption during the day and evenings”.
But Wayne Llewellyn, in a petition set up in support of the elderly group, said: “Backgammon, dominoes, and music are at the heart of the Maida Vale market square community.
“For some, not only is it an escape from their everyday lives, but it is also a place to heal from the grief of losing a loved one to Covid.
“The community is fearful of visiting or sitting on the benches, even if it is simply to drink a coffee.”
Labour councillors for Harrow Road had welcomed the temporary injunction last month, saying the council and police did not have enough power to tackle “anti-social behaviour”.
Cllr Guthrie McKie said: “It’s important the council and police now enforce this injunction, and do so in a way that not only tackles threatening and anti-social behaviour but also allows those in our community who use the public space considerately to continue to do so.”
A Westminster Council spokesman said: “The council has received more than 200 complaints from local residents, whose lives have been significantly disrupted by a wide range of anti-social behaviour.
“Groups of up to 60 people, of all ages, were travelling into the area late at night, and the council is aware of multiple incidents of public drinking, noise, Class A drug dealing, drug use, theft, prostitution, as well as urination and defecation in the street.
“The council has made a number of efforts to engage with the core group of people who gather in the square to provide them with community facilities for socialising.”