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Hackney Council has voted to kill its own nightlife

A new policy means that any new venue opening in the area will have to adhere to a midnight curfew

Last night, Hackney Council approved a controversial licensing policy that is likely to have severe ramifications on east London nightlife. The policy forces any new venues opening in the area to shut at 12am on weekends.

The policy, which passed unanimously, forces new venues to automatically adhere to a curfew of 11pm on weekdays and 12am on weekends. If owners want to extend the license, they have to prove that it won’t cause any anti-social behaviour issues – something that seems incredibly difficult to do one way or another.

“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,” councillor Emma Plouviez, who helped draft the policy told Resident Advisor. “We will help and support them to do that. 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.”

Hackney Mayor Phil Glanville also told Resident Advisor that he’d discussed the policy with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Night Czar Amy Lamé over the past year. Lamé wrote an incredibly lame (sorry) response on Twitter: “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.” Understandably, people have responded to Lamé’s tweet asking what the Night Czar is actually for if not to campaign against these sorts of policies.

Besides the addition of curfews, the Shoreditch Special Policy Area (SPA) will double in size, which makes it harder for new venues to open.

Back in 2013, Dazed asked ‘Is east London dead?’ In 2015, we were asking ‘How can we save London’s club scene?’ UK nightlife is resilient, but these sorts of decisions by local authorities are making it almost impossible for nightlife to flourish. The toothlessness of the Mayor of London and Night Czar is disheartening too, not least because one of Sadiq Khan’s campaign pledges was to protect London’s nightlife. The question is, what sort of nightlife did he mean?