Residents in Hackney have come together to protest against the council’s new controversial licensing regulations.
Over 100 residents gathered outside the Hackney Council building to show their anger at the new policy which would require all new venues in the borough to close by 11pm on weekdays and 12am on weekends.
The council also voted to double the ‘Shoreditch special area policy’ which has been in place since 2015 and means new venue owners must prove that their venue won’t increase antisocial behaviour in the area if they want to stay open past the curfew.
Cllr Emma Plouviez, Chair of Hackney Council’s licensing committee said in a statement that she believed this new licensing policy “strikes a balance” between supporting new venues and avoiding disruption for residents.
Alan Miller, director of the Night Time Industries Association, an independent organisation that aims to protect and support the UK’s night time economy, disputed this referring to the policy as “draconian”. He told ELL, “This is a step backwards, it creates a negative impact for particularly new, young and fresh business to come and grow here.”
“I’ve been around here long enough to see the transformations and to see Hackney grow from 20 years ago. The council are beneficiaries of all of that and now they want to stifle its growth, rather than have a positive outlook which really thinks about how we can all work together to make decisions based on different areas and partnerships. Instead, they’ve gone for a blanket regulatory approach which is going to be suffocating.”
Miller spoke about the importance of having a healthy nightlife; “The nighttime industries are the fifth biggest industry in Britain, and they need protecting, it’s where we generate loads of jobs particularly for young people,” he said.
“They’re interesting, they’re innovative it’s where we meet, fall in love, sometimes fall out of love. It’s who we are.”
Isaac, 23, who lives in South London, explained why he felt so strongly about the changes: “This could heavily impact one of the key boroughs in London’s nightlife. There’s so much opportunity for brilliant nightlife in and around Hackney and this just limits all of that.”