By thisislocallondon – Thursday 12 July 2001
RAVERS held a two-day dance and drugs party at a disused supermarket in Leytonstone at the weekend
About 2,000 revellers packed into the former Co-op Pioneer store in the High Road after organisers broke into the building and declared it a party zone late on Saturday night.
Residents were left sleepless for two nights as loud music pumped out from the former food hall, which was turned into a massive dance area with DJs and a light show.
The revelling went on until about 8am on Monday. Desperate householders flooded the police with calls but were shocked to be told that nothing could be done about it.
One elderly resident was found wandering around the site on Sunday morning dazed and confused, complaining that she had not slept.
Shortly after, a baptism at neighbouring St John’s Church was ruined by the rumble of “industrial” and “garage” music.
Drunken party bingers also targeted a local off-licence and stole more booze after they had run out of supplies and money.
Anger is now focused on the way the Co-operative Group has let the building fall into ruin and failed to secure the site.
When the Guardian confronted the rave organisers, they claimed they were just enjoying themselves.
Dave, 33, who would not give his surname, said: “When we look for buildings for parties we try to keep them away from residential areas. But sometimes you just can’t help it and it’s nice to party.
“We do these all over the place and people come together for a good time. The police seemed reasonable, although I didn’t speak to them. Thanks for having us.
“Two days is not long to put up with it and if people get offended then it is a secondary concern.”
Ian, 29, added: “The gate was just open and we walked through into the building. We knew the site was empty.”
But Rev Raymond Draper, vicar of St John’s Church, is fuming.
He said: “They have no right to deny every person their sleep. They have no right to steal from local shops and intimidate shopkeepers.
“And they have no right to disturb a church going about its normal business of worship and to intimidate a whole community.
“All you could hear through the baptism service was thud, thud, thud. It was like an earthquake.”
“The problem has got to a boiling point with anger about the way the Co-op has not done anything about the site and watched the situation get worse and worse. This weekend was the last straw.”
Cabinet member for the environment, Cllr Sally Buckley, added: “The situation at the old Pioneer site is quite disgraceful. It is something that local residents and businesses should not have to put up with.
“This weekend-long so-called party is just another anti-social episode and it is really time the Co-op sorted the problem once and for all.
“The Co-op and its agents are responsible for the security of the site and they should be good neighbours and keep the antisocial elements out.”
She said that the noise team was called to the site but was unable to act because of the absence of appropriate police support.
A spokesman for the Co-op, Phil Edwards, said: “Since we closed the store down earlier this year we have had security at the premises on a daily basis. Obviously it was a determined effort to get in.
“We will be bricking up the windows and, as of now, got a permanent 24-hour security presence on the site for as long as we consider it necessary.
“It is absolutely not the case that we have let down the community and we have been making efforts to keep the site secure.
“We are planning to redevelop the site and the message to the community is that we don’t want it to just stand there and fester.”Dave and Ian, organisers of the rave.