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Hackney Mayor Defends New Licensing Law Despite Potentially Disastrous Impact On Nightlife

The new licensing law will set out “core hours” for venues so they will close at 11pm on weekdays and 12am on weekends

Life is changing for the worse it would seem in Hackney, a borough in the Eastern part of London. The Hackney council passed a law last week, setting out “core hours” for venues so they will close at 11pm on weekdays and 12am on weekends. Outdoor activities would end at 10pm. There would be some exceptions to those licenses, but that would be what is generally given to new businesses.

Speaking to Mixmag, the Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville defended the new rule, saying this wasn’t a curfew and was good for everyone.

“I'd be very, absolutely, categorically clear this is not a curfew,” he said. “The core hours are a base of application. If you are a well-run venue going up to 11pm the presumption is you are likely to get those hours. If you want to go beyond that, it is a higher degree of scrutiny, but it doesn't say you won't get them.”

Hackney has transformed into a vibrant area with many bars, restaurants and nightclubs in the past 20 years. This has clashed with residents with a strong NIMBY attitude.

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“[The licensing policy] is aimed to strike the right balance between a really flourishing and diverse nighttime economy around bars, venues and clubs with the fact Hackney is a very small borough with residential populations in and around our town centers,” says Glanville.

If you are old and hate culture, maybe this new law is good, but if you are enjoy the arts or have the ability to stay up past midnight, this is bad.

There is another perspective to see here. In a cost-benefit analysis commissioned by the government, the central government earned £93m and the costs £24m for 2015. However for the local government, the nightlife cost £3.6m, while returning only £2.1m in 2015. Overall the number of business has grown substantially from 845 to 1,375, employment from 3,540 to 4,720. So instead of trying to figure out how to try and mitigate that financial gap through other ways like negotiating with the central government for a larger share of the pie or levying different taxes on profits above a certain level (for example), the government wants to create burdensome licensing laws that may close down a lot of clubs.

In a statement to NME, the nightlife czar Amy Lamé gave a long-winded response to the criticism saying how much that had been done and London was amazing. Then she conceded that licensing law is a local matter. “Shoreditch and Dalston’s night-time economy are the envy of the world. I know both Hackney Council and its businesses and residents want to protect its vibrancy, while making sure it works for those who live in the area.” She wants a meeting to try and make further progress to a 24-hour city. 

The decision has been protested since it was announced and will continue to be throughout the weekend, so link up with a group near you to find a protest at the Hackney Town Hall.

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