London’s night czar criticised following imposition of strict new curfew rules in Hackney

'Hey Night Czar and Sadiq Khan you are failing to protect nightlife in London'

Mattha Busby
Friday 20 July 2018 16:47

The Mayor of London’s night time economy czar has been criticised by prominent music industry figures after one of the capital’s most thriving nightlife hubs was told "core" curfews would be enforced for all new clubs, bars and pubs.

Hackney council unanimously voted to make new businesses close at 11pm under controversial new licensing laws that were opposed by the majority of the local population in a recent consultation.

The decision undermines the vision of a 24-hour city which the mayor Sadiq Khan previously trumpeted, appointing the city’s first night czar, Amy Lamé, to help champion and protect the night time economy.

“As night czar I've demanded an urgent meeting with Philip Glanville to express concern that Hackney Council’s restrictions will stifle its world-renowned nightlife-and to discuss a way forward. I will take written representation from businesses/resident,” she tweeted.

“Local authorities are responsible for licensing decisions, not the Mayor of London or the Night Czar. If you would like more information, here is a link to the Licensing Act 2003.”

However, she was roundly criticised for not doing enough to protect music venues in Hackney, as the local authority doubled the size of the Shoreditch special policy area, which effectively opening a venue in the area harder.

“Hey Night Czar and Sadiq Khan you are failing to protect nightlife in London,” tweeted internationally renowned DJ Four Tet, who often performs in Hackney. “You need to do more and you should persuade Hackney council to rethink their plans.”

Others lambasted the disconnect between the vision of “London is Open” and the reality of a stifling licensing climate.

“Shoutout to our Government for trying to make us the world’s first truly 12-hour city with a 24 hour tube line,” said Midland, another DJ who tours the world. “The stifling licensing climate is not restricted to Hackney, although in this case, yes, they did pass these measures.”

Rebuking the lack of leadership from the Night Mayor, night time entrepreneur Andy Peyton said: "Last night Hackney Council voted for all new venues to close at midnight at weekends, despite their own poll of residents voting 84% against the measures. Why wasn't Amy Lamé outside giving a press conference condemning the council? What is a Night Czar for?”

Lamé was appointed as night czar in November 2016 following Mr Khan’s election and was tasked with protecting London’s music venues following various high-profile closures.

She went full-time in her role in December 2017 with her pay almost doubling to £75,000 from £35,000.

It is understood Lamé has had a number of meetings with Hackney Council repeatedly on the issue. When approached for comment, a representative said she had asked for another "urgent" meeting with the authority.

Lamé has also previously called for an impact assessment on the Late Night Levy, the establishment of a new Business Improvement District, and a managed approach to Special Policy Areas.

Licensing committee chair Emma Plouviez defended the policy and stressed it would not harm nightlife in Hackney.

"Without these steps we face a potential situation where the licensing committee could be forced to approve late licences for venues that are completely unsuitable and will have a huge impact on residents' lives," she said.

A local consultation process around the policy saw 73 per cent of residents oppose the plan.

On the core hours restrictions, she said: “The onus will be on new applicants to demonstrate they are responsible, understand the pressures on the area and that their business will not have a negative impact on the area if they want to open late.

“We will help and support them to do that."

Local business owners called the move a “shameful failure” of local politicians to act in accordance with the preference of locals.

"This is a disgraceful decision and a shameful failure of elected officials to listen to the views of residents," founder of Street Feast Jonathan Downey told Resident Advisor. "It is disastrous for the life and vibrancy of Hackney nightlife. This is not over though and we will not be ignored."

The Night Time Industries Association estimate that the night-time economy of bars, clubs, music venues and restaurants generates around 6% of the UK’s GDP, employs around 1.3m people and is worth £66bn.

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