TROUBLE IN SOHO AS MILK & HONEY SOURS OVER ROOF DECK DISORDER

THE newly-planted bushes and olive trees on the roof of Milk & Honey have proved a hit, at least with the well-heeled professionals who drink the members club’s lethal cocktails late into the night.

But Soho residents are not so enamoured with the exclusive bar’s smart new roof terrace, making six noise-related complaints since the space opened for business on 5 August, which have placed the future of the al fresco refurbishment in jeopardy.

The club dismissed the complaints as “petty” and motivated by “bitterness and loneliness” in an email to its members last week, which reminded them to respect the house rules of “no hooting, hollering, shouting or other loud behaviour”.

But Westminster Council took a harder line on the situation, yesterday serving a noise abatement notice on the club, leaving it liable to a maximum fine of £20,000 if found in breach.

“Following complaints about excessive noise, council officers have issued the club with a noise abatement notice,” said the council. “We have made sure the club’s management are clear of their responsibilities and will monitor the situation.”

Matters came to a head over “an incident with loud singing and chatter” last Monday night, when one drinker – who subsequently had his membership revoked – sang from the rooftop while London was gripped by riots.

“We had one idiot member who was a bit loud,” admitted Jonathan Downey, owner of Milk & Honey’s parent company The Rushmore Group, which also owns The Player in Soho and The Clubhouse in Chamonix. “When you change the way you operate, there is always a week or so when things are a problem.”

But Milk & Honey’s troubles could be just beginning, as The Capitalist hears the after-hours haunt didn’t apply for planning permission before refurbishing its rooftop, and the council is looking into whether it must apply retrospectively, or whether the space was even suitable for refurbishment in the first place.

“Planning enforcement officers are investigating the installation of the roof terrace and a decision will be made on the proposed course of action in due course,” said Leith Penny, strategic director for city management at Westminster Council. Get the drinks in while you can…

SHOW OF WEALTH
THE THINGS the City’s private banks will do to impress their high net worth clients. Drop into the Strand showroom of Coutts & Co before 7 September to see the E-type Jaguar the bank’s marketing brains have wheeled in to promote 50 years of the “iconic” <a href="http://www.jaguar.com/gb/en/xk/"; target="_new">British sports car</a>.

Meanwhile, Butterfield Private Bank is sponsoring fashion designer Maria Grachvogel’s London Fashion Week show on Friday 16 September (Spring/Summer preview pictured below) as a way of entertaining its private female clients.

“I love the idea of working with a private bank with such a great reputation as Butterfield,” gushed Grachvogel. “They are reaching out to exactly the type of client that my designs appeal to.” Yes – rich ones.

CAUGHT OFFSIDE
AN ENTERTAINING conflict of interest for Tony Fernandes, the Malaysian entrepreneur who is in advanced talks to buy Queens Park Rangers FC, currently enjoying its first spell in the Premier League for 15 years.

Among Fernandes’ business interests is the no-frills hotels chain Tune Hotels, which sponsors all the Premier League referees. If the QPR deal goes through, he could become the first football owner in history to be relieved when his side is relegated.

PORT IN A STORM
FORGET gold and the Swiss Franc – it’s a case of any port in a storm with the global equity markets in turmoil, says Miles Davis of Wine Asset Managers, who maintains the market for fine wine “remains sound”.

Davis has watched the Fine Wine Investment Fund, the Cayman Islands mutual fund he started in 2006, grow 74 per cent since launch, and is now reinvesting the proceeds in Bordeaux vintages that will benefit from “the broadening appreciation of fine wines in the Far East”.

“The solid performance of fine wine as an asset in the face of adversity triggered by the Lehman’s debacle still lives fresh in the memory and should stand us in good stead,” he reassured investors.

LAST RITES
FURTHER to the sad news of the death of John Nuttall, founder of First Columbus, the funeral will be held at 10am tomorrow at Saint Bartholemew the Great at 6-9 Kinghorn Street, West Smithfield, followed by a cremation at The Islington Crematorium, 278 High Road, East Finchley. There will also be a gathering at Smithfield Bar and Grill after the church service from 11.30am at 2–3 West Smithfield, City of London EC1A 9JX. Floral donations can be arranged through D Cella on 0207 403 0067.