- The proposed policy, which includes a strict curfew, is expected to pass despite strong public opinion against the measure.
Hackney Council is set to hold a crunch vote tonight on a licensing policy that would place tough restrictions on new businesses.
The new licensing policy proposal calls for an 11 PM weekday curfew on all new pubs and clubs and a 12 PM close time on weekends, as well as requiring drinking and dining establishments to shutter outside areas by 10 PM. (Restaurants will be allowed to stay open an hour later.) It would also call for an expansion of the Shoreditch Special Policy Area, which requires proposed new venues to prove they will not add to the "cumulative negative impact" of other licensed establishments in the area.
Local group We Love Hackney has been campaigning against this new wave of changes since they were first published in January. In May, the group sent a letter to Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville requesting a meeting to discuss the proposal, citing the overwhelmingly negative reaction to the council's consultation survey of 680 people, most of whom were Hackney residents. According to the consultation, 77 percent were against doubling the Shoreditch Special Policy Area and 84 percent were against the new curfews.
Today, We Love Hackney published an open letter to Hackney Council, writing that these changes would be a "gift to big corporates and risks turning Shoreditch into a bland replica of Leicester Square... freezing out local businesses or young people just starting out."
Jonathan Downey, one of the founding members of We Love Hackney, spoke to Resident Advisor about his "overwhelming disappointment" over tonight's vote and their public silence: "I've been trying for months now to speak to Philip Glanville... we've just been ignored. We're trying to understand where this is coming from. This is just the opposite of what should be happening... It's anti-jobs, anti-young people, anti-gay, it's anti-anybody who really embraces and makes the most of the nighttime economy. I don't understand it."
Dan Beaumont, who runs Kingsland Road spots Dalston Superstore, Voodoo Rays, The Karaoke Hole and previously Dance Tunnel, told RA: "It's a shame that one of London's most innovative boroughs is taking such regressive steps against its own nighttime economy, with a policy explicitly against the wishes of its own residents." He adds that now, with these proposed policy changes, "no serious operator would open a nightclub in Hackney—it's too big a risk!"
This isn't the first time in recent history that London council policies have taken a dim view on local nightlife. "Since they brought in this Special Policy Area, that's why, to some extent on the weekend, Shoreditch is full of a crowd who would normally go to Leicester Square," Downey explains. "The reason Shoreditch happened in the first place, 15 years ago or maybe even going back a little further, is because Westminster brought in the same policy to get rid of all the bars and clubs in Soho and prevent any new stuff. So the nighttime economy moved east, where Hackney, at the time, was a welcoming borough that supported these new business."
Read We Love Hackney's open letter to the Hackney councillors, and find more information on contacting the Hackney council here.
Just last week, Shoreditch venue Red Gallery announced it will be closing at the end of the month after eight years in business.
Photo credit: Jake Davis