Do the Hackney licensing changes set a worrying precedent for Britain’s night time economy?

We often blog or tweet about regulatory changes that have the potential to decimate the night time industry. It’s possible that such a change has just hit Hackney.

For those who missed the story breaking, Hackney council have recently announced new licensing laws which could leave the borough’s nightlife stagnant and push night time revellers away from the area.

Under the new proposals, the Shoreditch special policy area, which requires new venues to prove they won’t add to anti-social behaviour, crime and noise, would increase in size to cover more of the borough. That means all new venues in Hackney would have to show that they will not add to anti-social behaviour, crime and noise.

The regulations will set a curfew of midnight at weekends and 11pm during the week for the new venues, unless they can demonstrate that they won’t have a negative effect on the surrounding area by opening later.

What do the regulations mean for businesses?

The main concern from the Hackney night time economy (and in particular, popular areas like Shoreditch), is that they were sold a vision of London being a 24 hour city, but in actual fact, it’s going to be part time.

They say that smaller independents won’t have the financial clout to appeal the opening hours, so the landscape will be dominated by existing businesses and large chains.

If nightlife stagnates and venues are closing early, the area will lose its big draw and potentially push customers to other areas, or into house parties/illegal raves.

It’s also worrying that instead of viewing the night time economy as one of Hackney’s big positives, it’s almost as if they only see it as a hotbed for crime and bad behaviour.

But it’s just in Hackney, right?

For now. Hackney council are changing the regulations to appeal to local residents and non-night time businesses. If they see ‘success’ (e.g less anti-social behaviour, less litter etc) which they inevitably will, they are more likely to increase the area that the laws cover.

And if they do that, other councils round the country may follow suit.

The night time economy is one of the biggest contributors to the country’s economy. Minimising its ability to grow could be a disaster.

Can it be stopped?

Yes, but the industry has to work together and show solidarity. Joining bodies like the NTIA will help our individual voices become a choir.

To show your support, follow the activity of the NTIA on Twitter. They have been lobbying for the new regulations to be cancelled and have used the hashtag #welovehackney to show their support.

On the NTIA Twitter feed, you can follow all the organised protests in and around Hackney.

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