Hackney Council had proposed a new licensing policy for 2016, which resulted in considerable opposition from premises licence holders, and in particular nightclub operators, in East London.
The draft policy, under consultation until 14 August 2015, was intended to replace the existing licensing policy which expires at the end of 2015. The proposed policy introduced “a borough-wide hours” policy which would clearly place any premises operating beyond midnight under extra scrutiny (with the exception of restaurants and cinemas). The special policy areas in Dalston and Shoreditch were intended to continue, which would make it incredibly difficult to get a late licence in those areas, despite the fact that eighty four percent of respondents to a public consultation opposed the new policy.
Dan Beaumont, who is a client of Woods Whur and owner of the Dalston Superstore and Dance Tunnel was quoted as saying: “it is a shame that a vibrant and creative London borough has to suffer a regressive and damaging licensing policy. Clubs are a vital part of Hackney’s success story over the last few decades – if this policy goes ahead we will all be poorer for it. It is vital to encourage new start ups to launch independent venues to keep Hackney and London an important cultural destination”. Speaking to the “Hackney Citizen” the Colombo Group’s Steve Ball echoed those sentiments;, saying: “No new bars being allowed will remove from young entrepreneurs the opportunity to do things better than the old guard. It is important that the next generation has access to the same opportunities”.
Hackney Council has now withdrawn its 2016 licensing proposal and will keep its current policy until next year. The news was not perhaps as good as the late night operators would have hoped for, in that the council had made it clear that they are only proposing to delay any decision by twelve months which, it says, will “give time for new consultation next year and opportunity for further engagement with residents and businesses”. A council mailshot confirmed that the council also plans to launch a high profile public debate on the borough’s night time economy. Any proposals will need to be approved by the Licensing Committee and the full council.
Emma Plouviez, Chair of Hackney’s Licensing Committee, made the following statement: “Unfortunately there was a minor error in the published consultation document. Although this was not related to the part of the consultation affecting night club opening hours, which is what we know has caused the most concern, you want to ensure that everyone who takes the time to respond to any council consultation can have confidence that they do so with the full facts…. We have already met with residents and business groups, but it is clear we need to listen further to all voices and opinions and we plan to host a debate on this later in the autumn. We hope that residents, visitors and businesses will join us to help shape a licensing policy for Hackney which everyone can understand and get behind.”
It is important that all those who are in interested in these developments in Hackney watch carefully for any new developments and make written submissions to Hackney Council when the consultation period starts again. We would be happy to help anyone who wishes to make a representation.