Dominoes participant wins case over ‘racist’ noise ban in London sq. | London

A dominoes participant has gained a court docket case over a ban in opposition to he and his associates enjoying the sport “loudly” that he mentioned was racially motivated.

Ernest Theophile took Westminster metropolis council to court docket after it granted an injunction banning social gatherings in Maida Hill Market Square in north-west London.

Theophile and his associates have been gathering within the sq. for 12 years, to talk, socialise, and play dominoes, playing cards and backgammon. However, the council banned them from congregating there in January 2021, citing noise and delinquent behaviour issues. It mentioned it had acquired greater than 200 complaints.

In March 2021, a decide modified the order which means the group may return to the sq. close to a junction between Harrow Road, Westbourne Park and Maida Vale. But the group may have been jailed in the event that they have been caught “playing loud amplified music, drinking alcohol, shouting or swearing”.

However, the 74-year-old took the council to court docket, saying its order was racist because it discriminated in opposition to Caribbean tradition. Theophile’s household arrived from the Dominican Republic within the Nineteen Fifties as a part of the Windrush era.

“If you are West Indian, you just can’t play dominoes without making a bit of noise,” Theophile mentioned, including that he had visited the realm for many of his life and that it helped individuals keep away from social isolation .

On Friday, Judge Heather Baucher, presiding at central London county court docket, dominated that Westminster council was mistaken to not take equality into consideration when taking out the injunction.

She mentioned its resolution was “flawed” and “untenable”.

Lawyers representing the council mentioned that steering saying equality issues have to be taken under consideration was “seriously wrong” so officers didn’t should observe it, which Baucher rejected.

Theophile’s authorized staff will attempt to get the injunction thrown out in court docket subsequent month.

Theophile mentioned: “The loneliness was one of the biggest factors as to why we gather there. That’s why the square [is] ideal for us.

“Sometimes the younger generation come here and congregate, but we just want a place where we can socialise and play a few games to pass the time.”

The Rev Henry Everett, the vicar of close by St Peter’s church, mentioned: “The borough of Westminster has some of the most deprived areas in London. Around the Harrow Road, I have found there to be an astonishing level of need in the community in terms of mental health support, so I was shocked when I heard about the injunction and I expressed serious concerns about the use of this dangerous, catch-all measure against the whole community.”

Theophile’s lawyer, Anne McMurdie, mentioned: “There has been a complete failure by Westminster city council to recognise and comply with the equalities obligations owed to the West Indian community. Instead, the council rushed to draconian measures by seeking an injunction backed up by a power of arrest, which could have seen my client sent to prison.”

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A spokesperson for Westminster metropolis council mentioned its new Labour administration hoped to discover a resolution: “We recognise and accept the judgment of the high court.

“This is the first time that we have been asked to apply equalities law when applying for an injunction, which is why we had previously not sought one.

“We maintain and continue to believe that our actions have always been in the best interests of local residents, who have been plagued by antisocial behaviour and criminality.

“However, the council is reviewing its approach to this case with the new administration looking to find a solution that works for the whole community.”

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