Hackney’s new Licensing Policy causes uproar

Obtaining late-hours for alcohol-licensed premises in Hackney has been a challenge for some time now. However, it’s not been completely impossible, as we have previously shown, even when facing opposition from the licensing authority itself.

Regrettably, a difficult task is likely to become even harder now that Hackney Council has unanimously adopted a new licensing policy under which:

  • at weekends, “core” midnight closing times, and
  • on other nights of the week 11pm closing times,

are to apply for all new venues, meaning that an applicant will have to prove to the Licensing Committee’s satisfaction that granting its application will not cause antisocial problems.

That’s not all because, in addition, the Council has voted to double the size of its existing Cumulative Impact Zone in Shoreditch – arguably London’s most vibrant nightlife area.

The rationale for this was explained in an open statement made by Hackney’s Licensing Chair, Cllr Emma Plouviez (that can be downloaded below), in which she says that the Council’s “aim has always been to agree an approach that is shaped by the views of visitors, licensees and local residents”.

However, both that rationale and the unanimous vote by councillors in favour of the new policy ignore the fact that the Council received 680 responses to its consultation on the proposed new policy, of which 73% were against the proposals.

It also runs counter to the Mayor of London’s vision of the capital as a 24-hour city, chef Neil Rankin tweeting “24 city my arse” and continuing: “And that’s it. Hackney councillors have just unanimously voted through some of the toughest restrictions on nightlife in Britain, in the face of overwhelming opposition from local residents. We’ll keep campaigning for a Hackney that is diverse, independent and fun”.

Commenting to the Hackney Gazette on the Council’s decision, Jonathan Downey (founder of the Street Feast venue in Shoreditch) has hinted that the new policy may be challenged, saying: “This is a disgraceful decision and a shameful failure of elected officials to listen to the views of residents. It is disastrous for the life and vibrancy of Hackney nightlife. This is not over, though, and we will not be ignored.”

His views are shared by Tim Foster (“Head of Being Awesome” at the Yummy Pub Company) who has tweeted: “Shame on you all @MayorofLondon how to lose an incredible economy from one who already has his licence to trade I want to inspire the new, diverse, unique future operators. Trust this tweet, you’ll regret it!!”

Further developments are awaited!