Residents aghast at Albert Hall boxing plans

Thu Jan 28, 2010 8:58am EST
 
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Plans to bring back boxing and wrestling to London's Albert Hall -- which sits in one of the city's most exclusive areas -- have outraged residents.

So worried are they at the prospect of boxing fans converging on the famous South Kensington concert venue that they have launched a High Court action to stop the local council going ahead.

A judge on Thursday heard that they are concerned the two sports would attract "anti-social elements" and lead to increased noise, the Press Association reported.

Barrister John Steel said the case concerned a decision made in May last year by the licensing authority, Westminster City Council, to vary the license for the 140-year-old Albert Hall, named by Queen Victoria in memory of her late husband Prince Albert.

Although it has hosted boxing in the past, featuring fighters such as Henry Cooper, Joe Bugner and Frank Bruno, its primary function is as a classical music venue, best known for the annual BBC promenade concerts.

The variation would add boxing and wrestling to the list of permitted licensable activities, extend opening hours, and extend the time for the serving of refreshments.

Mr Justice McCombe heard that some residents believed that fans attending boxing and wrestling events were likely to be "more noisy and disruptive when they exit than current clientele."

Boxing events in the past, they said, have led to "very serious disturbances."

The action, which is being contested by Westminster City Council, is expected to continue on Friday, with a decision in the case likely to be announced at a later date.

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

 
<p>Osmai Acosta Duarte of Cuba blocks a punch from Egor Mekhontsev of Russia during their AIBA Heavyweight (91Kg) World Championships men's final boxing match in Milan September 12, 2009. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo</p>