Barred pub regulars fight back in Somers Town

Regulars barred from the Somers Town Coffee House in Chalton Street near Kings Cross, are demanding to be re-admitted to their local pub.

Submitted by Steven. on February 15, 2006

"Dozens" of regulars have been banned in a process described as "discrimination" by one member of the commmunity.

The Camden New Journal reports:

Lifelong regulars barred from a historic Somers Town pub when it went upmarket have started a petition demanding to be readmitted.

The Somers Town Coffee House in Chalton Street hit the headlines before Christmas when Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) boss Bob Crow was barred with colleagues for loud singing.

The traditional English pub was taken over last summer by two French women and a local man and turned into a gastropub with fine china and a wine list. Now it has come under fire from residents who say it is ripping their community apart.
Activist Frankie Biney, who is organising the petition, said: “The Coffee House has been a place for the community to meet for decades, but the new owners have banned almost everybody who used to drink there, usually for trivial things.

“We, as a community, believe this is a process of discrimination against us.

“We have fought long and hard to build up our community in what is one of the most deprived estates in the country.

“Our pubs are at the heart of our community and the barring of local people breaks it apart.

“They just want to appeal to people in shirts and ties now.”

He estimated that “dozens” had been banned and said that he had been barred himself because he had not collected tools which he kept at the pub and used for community events.

He said the RMT had “made a real effort to get involved with the community” since setting up its headquarters in Chalton Street but that the pub’s gentrification meant it was only for “professionals who won’t look you in the eye when they walk past you in the street.”

The new owners, Ann-Marie France, Sabine Letort and Robert Gee, refused to say how many drinkers had been banned or to talk on the record to the New Journal, but are understood to be wary of being drawn into a public row with the ex-regulars.

Mr Gee said only: “Who we bar is a private matter.”