‘Some Of The Toughest Restrictions On Nightlife In Britain’: London Mayor’s Night-Life Commitment Questioned After Council Vote
Photo by David Iliff. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0 – London skyline at night
The council of East London borough Hackney voted in new licensing policies, which will inhibit the borough
After Hackney Council, which set the policy for one of London’s busiest and most creative boroughs, unanimously voted on strict curfews for new venues, residents and interest groups have spoken out.
London’s mayor Sadiq Khan has been making a lot of promises regarding saving the night-time economy of England’s capital, and achieved early successes by recruiting a Night Czar and adding night-lines to the city’s Tube and Overground networks.
One of the more popular Overground destinations is Hackney, generally considered one of London’s most creative boroughs for its many pubs, venues and young entrepreneurs that have set up shop there. Hackney Council just voted on a licensing policy, that sets an 11 p.m. curfew for new venues on weekday and 12 a.m. on weekends, as well as a 10 p.m. curfew for outdoor activities.
These hours will only be extended, if licensees can prove to the council that whatever activity it is they have in mind won’t cause anti-social behavior, according to a report by the Hackney Gazette.
“The Shoreditch special policy area (SPA), which essentially makes it harder to open a venue in the area, will also double in size,” the report states. (Shoreditch is a district within Hackney)
Councillor Emma Plouviez, licensing chair of the council, said in a statement: “As the licensing committee, our job is to carefully balance the needs of local businesses and the people who live in our borough. We value the borough’s nightlife – it’s one of the things that makes Hackney unique – but we also value our residents’ right to a good night’s sleep.
“Many of them have watched Hackney’s nightlife build up around them; they didn’t choose to live in the middle of a busy area packed with late night venues. Through this process we’ve heard stories about lives being seriously affected by anti-social behaviour like people shouting in the early hours, litter and discarded take-aways strewn across the streets and people urinating on doorsteps.
“We need to find a way to support our nightlife to thrive, but we owe it our residents to make sure their concerns are represented too.”
A consultation on the matter, run by Hackney Council between November 2017 and January 2018, yielded 680 responses from borough residents, the vast majority of which were against the changes, or at least didn’t think they were the appropriate steps to achieve what Plouviez outlined above.
Similar licensing plans were introduced in 2015, but residents formed a 4,000-strong campaign group called We Love Hackney and successfully fought them off. It now published the following tweet: “And that’s it. Hackney councillors have just unanimously voted through some of the toughest restrictions on nightlife in Britain, in the face of overwhelming opposition from local residents. We’ll keep campaigning for a Hackney that is diverse, independent and fun.”
– We Love Hackney
The campaign group sent an open letter to Hackney Council, pointing out what it thinks will happen under the new licensing policy
In an open letter to Hackney Council, the group wrote: “The policy is a gift to big corporates and risks turning Shoreditch into a bland replica of Leicester Square.
“By doubling the SPA the value of licences in these areas will shoot up, freezing out local businesses or young people just starting out.
“A borough wide core hours policy and 10 p.m. closing time for outdoors areas will kill innovation.
“It’s exactly the approach Soho took 15 years ago – which ironically led to indie venues heading east to Shoreditch.”
London’s night czar Amy Lamé first tweeted, that “local authorities are responsible for licensing decisions, not the mayor of London or the night czar,” which made people question the actual effectiveness of the Mayor’s plan to save music venues.
Lamé followed up her tweet with the following: “As night czar I’ve demanded an urgent meeting with [Hackney Mayor] Philip Glanville to express concern that Hackney Council’s restrictions will stifle its world renown nightlife-and to discuss a way forward.”
To which Glanville replied: “Odd given she’s been consulted throughout the process.”