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Police close pubs after St George's Day brawl

PUBLISHED: 10:51 30 April 2009 | UPDATED: 16:38 25 August 2010

ST GEORGE'S Day celebrations descended in to chaos when a large brawl prompted police to close pubs across a borough.

ST GEORGE'S Day celebrations descended in to chaos when a large brawl prompted police to close pubs across a borough.

About 200 revellers gathered outside Trax Café Bar, Bexley Village, and were caught in a clash with bottles at 8pm, resulting in eight people going to A&E with face and head injuries.

After an initial squad car had its window smashed, police closed all the pubs in Bexley Village before closing most pubs in Bexleyheath and some in Sidcup.

One regular at Trax who did not wish to be named claimed a 'hard core' of 18 to 25-year-olds started the brawl intentionally.

He said: "I got there at 7.30pm and I could sense a bad atmosphere immediately.

"All of a sudden someone just ran up and punched a guy in his 20s in the face without any provocation.

"They started fighting with everyone they could as people stood back bemused, then they split into two groups, went outside and started raining bottles down on the crowd."

He added: "I thought this year people were going to learn to celebrate it properly.

"It seems like this is the reason we're not allowed to celebrate it officially."

Other witnesses said two groups of young football supporters started fighting, then the crowd turned on police as they arrived.

Trax Café Bar, which was holding its annual St George's celebrations, had its licence suspended by police pending a full licence review.

Chief Inspector Steve Murrant said: "There were various rumours as to who the groups were.

"But at the end of the day there were 200 to 300 outside a premises designed for 50 people. It was totally mismanaged."

Three men were arrested despite some 100 police officers from outside the borough attending as well as a police helicopter.

One man in his 40s to be taken to hospital by ambulance

Bill Mead, landlord at The Millers Arms, said: "It was really, really nasty. People were using bottles and glasses and quite a few people were being taken to hospital with cuts.

"The police advised me to close at 9.30pm and I closed the doors for the customers' safety really, then the police locked the whole village down at 10pm. It was a real shame."

Trax is to undergo a licence review in the next four weeks.

jules.cooper@archant.co.uk

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