The axeman cometh: the latest (really) bad idea for Boxpark

Croydon is about to get its first axe-throwing bar at Boozepark.

Axe of idiocy: coming to a Boozepark near you

That’s right: a bar, selling booze, next to East Croydon Station, providing axes to its customers as a form of recreation. In central Croydon, a place already with a reputation for alcohol-fuelled violent crime. Where the police and local authorities battle daily to reduce the supply of bladed weapons and prevalence of knife crime.

Couldn’t make it up?

No need, because despite objections from Croydon Council officials and a ward councillor (only one?), a licensing application from Bad Axe Throwing has been granted, largely because axe throwing “is not a licensable activity”.

According to the meeting’s minutes, there was no objection from the police, who instead simply asked that the same conditions that have been applied to another axe bar, at Boxpark Wembley, should be applied: you can only go into Boozepark and get pissed and throw axes if you are over 18.

As the minutes state, “The sub-committee was mindful that axe-throwing was not a licensable activity under the Licensing Act 2003 (‘the Act’) but that the licensable activity they were tasked with considering was the sale of alcohol by retail.

Oh…

“The sub-committee noted that the police had not raised any objections to the proposed application, whether from a crime and disorder perspective or in relation to any of the other licensing objectives.”

This left the committee unable to give any weight to the objections raised by Shaun Hanks, the head of quality assurance and safeguarding in the council’s children, families and education department.

Hanks had written to the committee to express “strong objections”. Hanks’ intervention falls firmly into the category of a statement of the bleedin’ obvious, but clearly needed to be said.

“Given the problems with knife crime and violence around the venue and station the provision of axes to throw does not appear to be preventive in relation to safety or limiting access to weapons.

“The provision of alcohol at the same venue does not appear to be in line with [the applicants’] statement of not allowing anyone intoxicated to take part.” Hanks added that Bad Axe had offered “insufficient information” about their child safeguarding policies and training.

At the end of the meeting, the only other concession to public safety required by the police was that there should be no axe throwing going on when Boozepark stages its larger events. The axe bar will just have to rely on its sales of booze on those occasions.

Axe-throwing is, we are told, the post-lockdown Next Big Thing. We’re all going to don our lumberjack shirts and do a bit of workplace bonding with an axe in our hands, instead of going bowling or playing pool. Thing is, at several of the other commercial axe venues that have opened up in England in the past year, their business is all about the throwing, and less about the throwing-up – they operate without the need for an alcohol licence.

According to the licensing application for Croydon, “Bad Axe Throwing was founded by CEO Mario Zelaya in 2014. In just a few years, they have expanded across Canada and the United States with over 40 locations, including a licensed site in Wembley, North West London.

“Bad Axe Throwing is the world’s biggest urban axe throwing club. Their mission is to bring the thrill of a traditional Canadian backyard pastime to urban communities. With the talented axe throwing coaches, hundreds of thousands of people have been able to share their passion for throwing axes.” Admit it, you never realised you had that passion for throwing axes, did you?

“They pride ourselves [sic] in delivering outstanding customer service to all of our clients whether it’s for walk-ins, leagues, private parties and team building events.”

Target audience: has this venture been properly thought-through?

It ain’t cheap, either. At £33 per person for groups of six, it means you’re virtually £200 out of pocket before anyone gets the first round in.

In a recent report on the growing trend, The Grauniad said, “Much like bowling, axe throwing involves lanes. Punters are given axes, though some ranges do let you bring your own…”  Just let that percolate when applied to Croydon.

The “punters”, as the Grauniadista would have it, “are taught to throw them at wooden targets painted with concentric circles and dots.” Apparently, there are “detailed rules… laid out by the International Axe Throwing Federation”. There’s even a TV-tie-in with sports broadcasters ESPN.

Zelaya, with the ink on his Croydon licence still drying, told The Guardian, that “demand for the activity, as a fun stress-reliever and exercise, will be huge in the upcoming months”.

Next, Inside Croydon will bring you news of its own application to set up dog-fighting pits in Surrey Street and for the staging of a bull fight in Queen’s Gardens. Because, you know, demand for the activity will be huge in the upcoming months.


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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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10 Responses to The axeman cometh: the latest (really) bad idea for Boxpark

  1. Lewis White says:

    Unbelievable. Surely the Licensing ctte should have had clear grounds for turning down the drinks licence in view of the fact that drinkers will be wielding axes. Even if axe throwing is not subject to licensing.

    It’s a bit like giving planning permission for a firework factory next door to a petrol station and timber yard. A bit of a risk.

  2. If you’d have published this on April 1st I would have applauded…but April is a way away now.
    Go on, admit it. You just made that up.
    No one in their right mind would in any way legitimise the use of bladed weapons in a borough with a horrendous record of their use in crime and assault.
    And the International Axe Throwing Federation? That has to be a joke, I thought, but I looked it up and I was wrong. It does exist and has close links to the International Group for the Recreational Use of Nuclear Weapons, The International Brotherhood for Peace Through Chainsaws and, amongst many more and possibly the most extreme, The Alliance of Emeritus and Current Logical Decision Makers in Croydon. This latter has been in existence for 20 years now but at the moment has only one member.
    Confess!

  3. richard pyatt says:

    I simply cannot believe the total utter crass stupidity of the council officers who approved of this license its a pandora’s box there will be at least one incident off site and then the thing will be closed down …. perhaps sheer madness but can expect nothing better from ” go ahead Croydon dump of the south !!!!

  4. What’s wrong with welly throwing instead? Even green ones could be allowed.

  5. Isaiah Fapuro says:

    Lifted from their FAQ when asked ‘Has anyone ever been hurt’:

    “There has never been any case of injury at any of our locations. Our coaches are experts at enforcing axe throwing safety; primarily because they know a lot about axe throwing and teach you the right way to do it, and also because we hire mature, safety conscious coaches to keep axe throwing safety a priority.”

    I’d give it a few months. I am astounded this passed the Met Police…

  6. Looks like one for the chop

  7. Lewis White says:

    Surely this business will actually train large numbers of people to throw an axe, accurately. A percentage of the punters are likely to go out, buy an axe, and try it out for real in a non-controlled environment.

    Even if most people don’t set out to do damage or injure people, accidents — likely to be experimention as to the projectile capabilities of catapults, bows and arrows, air guns, knives and now , throwing axes, have a habit of happening. It would be likely to happen to a younger brother or sister, or a friend, with possible serious consequences.

    Of course, there are also out there who would lark around and throw an axe towards a mate for a laugh — whoops– too far– oh no . My mate has fallen down.

    Even if no such accidents ever happen at or after a visit to Box Park, this combo of axes and alcohol just doesn’t really fit in with the knife-free future that many in Croydon are trying to bring about. Very sad, and totally unacceptable.

  8. Anthony Miller says:

    What do you expect from the town that pulled down the Warehouse Theatre to build a giant pub?

  9. Ian Kierans says:

    I can understand the Licensing Committee’s view and do hope they sought legal advice on the vicarious Liability dangers implicit. But I am surprised that the Police have not objected. So one can stroll to Boxpark soon with a set of throwing ax in a holdall and not get arrested for carrying a concealed weapon?
    Now there is no need to take the risk of carrying a weapon for £33 you can avoid that risk and have a captive audience to boot. What next Throwing knives? Crossbows? Gun ranges!

  10. Lewis White says:

    Just came up with a good ol’ idee ta get the punters inta downtown Croydon, an idee which is sus-tain-a-able. “Recyclin'”, in fact. First, think of a bar, sellin’ bottes of beer, or cans. Then, a shootin’ range . Customers shoot their empties off the shelves direct into recyclin’ bins!

    Guess that’s what they calls the circular econ-o-mee!!

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