Lights out for Hackney? Backlash builds against council's plans to stop granting new licences

By Emily Sutherland

- Last updated on GMT

Hackney is home to a booming late night scene in Dalston and Shoreditch
Hackney is home to a booming late night scene in Dalston and Shoreditch

Related tags London borough of hackney Hackney council

Hackney council is facing a bitter backlash from the borough’s late night venues after it proposed a new bylaw that would close venues at 11pm and prevent any new licences from being granted in certain areas.

The new law would extend the controversial Shoreditch Special Policy Area, where any application for a licence will be refused unless there are ‘exceptional circumstances.’ Pubs and bars would close at 11pm on weekdays and 12pm at weekends.

Concerns about the impact of the hugely popular late night scene in Dalston and Shoreditch on local residents are behind the move, with the council arguing it needs to find a balance between the ‘vibrant hospitality economy’ and the lives of locals.

Dan Beaumont, who runs a series of venues including the Dalston Superstore, said the policy would seriously harm the area’s future and called on the council to find an alternative solution.

“This will be a huge deterrent to entrepreneurs and start-ups and the new hours don’t fit with the lifestyles of people in London. London is embracing a 24-hour culture. We need to find a way to work together to solve the problems, such as schemes where bars and pubs contribute to the costs of community safety officers.”

Venues in the area have formed campaign group ‘We love Hackney’ to protest the changes, which they say ‘puts the borough we know and love at risk.’ An online petition set up by local bar Meoko has over 2,000 signatures.

Licensing chair Emma Plouviez defended the proposal and said it would only affect new licences.

In a statement, she said: “To understand why we’re proposing these measures it’s important to understand how Hackney has changed since we last reviewed the policy in 2011. Nightlife is booming and the areas where people spend their nights have expanded.

“We’re reaching saturation point and in our view these areas are losing the balance between the rights of residents and the rights of businesses. It’s the Council’s job to try and strike this fair balance around quality of life, and this is why we are proposing changes to the Licensing Policy.
“It’s true that the night-time economy creates jobs and brings visitors and money to the borough, which is great, but more and more residents who live in areas such as Dalston and Shoreditch are having to contend with people peeing in their gardens, shouting outside their windows at 4am and a host of other antisocial behaviour. Alcohol-related ambulance calls are also on the increase during the evening in these areas, as is the cost to the taxpayer of having to clear up the ever growing piles of litter every weekend.”

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