The Council has reported taking action to close one of Uxbridge Road's many shisha clubs on the grounds that it does not have the right license to operate that way and in any case creates noise and bother for residents. Which would all be mundane enough and not particularly worth flagging up if it wasn't for the fact that the real context of this is the fact that the clubs are used by the Somali community in W12 who themselves were criticised following the spate of stabbings that occurred after disturbances outside these clubs up and down Uxbridge Road in December.
All of a sudden this gets a bit more sensitive. We had the dodgy and unduly dramatic reporting of those incidents at the time, but we also had the recognition that there was a problem that needed to be addressed. What I'm less clear about is what clamping down on shisha clubs actually does to address that problem.
For a start how much noise and bother do they create when compared to, for example, some of the clapped out pubs that we have in our area? It's worth bearing in mind that the people in these clubs don't generally drink. Unlike some of the worse-for-wear badly singing and shouting patrons of the pubs at kicking out time. Even on sunday they come shouting out of those places. I should say here that I don't have to live next to either of them - and some of you do, so you may have a very different view.
And if the Council's own press release doesn't even mention the big picture that they are trying to tackle here what hope is there of a genuinely effective strategy of combating a violence and intimidation problem? The answer is not, surely, to clamp down on cafes but to work with the community over the long term to work through what I imagine are very deep seated problems that may be behind isolated flashes of violence of the sort we saw in December. It's worth bearing in mind that if you spent some of your childhood in one of the worst war zones in Africa, you might just bring some of that with you when you come here. No easy answers - but that's precisely why we shouldn't be looking for the easy answers which this sort of 'cafe clampdown' seems to be about.