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By Dominic Parikh
East Oxford residents have responded angrily to plans by the O2 Academy in Cowley to extend its opening times.
The music venue is asking the council to amend its licence so it can open one hour earlier every day. It is also seeking to stay open until midnight on Sundays – an hour longer than at present – and remain open until 4am on the Sundays before bank holidays.
Neighbours have submitted 46 letters of objection, warning that the club’s plans will see people drinking for longer and increase the level of antisocial behaviour around the venue.
They have also raised concerns that existing problems with late-night behaviour around the Academy are not being addressed.
Ed Chipperfield, spokesman for the East Oxford Residents’ Associations, said: “There is a feeling that not only is the venue asking for too much, but that what it already has should be taken away.”
Chipperfield said residents were particularly concerned about the venue’s ‘Fuzzy Ducks’ student night on Wednesdays.
The weekly event is promoted at Oxford Brookes but is also popular with many Oxford University students.
Once voted the easiest place to pull in the UK, it is billed as “The country’s most famous student night” with promotional material encouraging students to “Come and misbehave”.
Chipperfield commented: “Our major issue with the Academy is with the Fuzzy Ducks night. We have no problems with the gigs, and other events like that, but Fuzzy Ducks is another creature entirely.”
“There should be a moratorium on changes to the O2 Academy’s licence until it sorts these problems out.”
He claimed that residents had recently witnessed people “jumping in front of buses, kicking bins over and climbing up lampposts”.
Thames Valley Police refused to comment on policing measures at the venue while the request was under consideration.
The application is due to be discussed by city councillors, many of whom face elections next month, at an upcoming meeting.
Louise Kovacs, spokeswoman for Academy Music Group, which owns the music venue, said that earlier opening hours would enable them to host more events targeted at younger audiences.
She defended the ‘Fuzzy Ducks’ nights, pointing out that up to 20 security staff were on duty each Wednesday, and that “[e]xtensive signage is displayed advising customers that we operate in a residential area with full length pavement barriers outside for added safety”.