Hackney residents to oppose council's early closing policy

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Curfew challenged: Hackney residents will legally oppose the council's strict new licensing policy
Curfew challenged: Hackney residents will legally oppose the council's strict new licensing policy

Related tags: Hackney council

A group of Hackney residents will legally challenge a strict curfew for all new licences, which they said will stifle the borough’s diverse nightlife.

Residents’ association We Love Hackney said it hopes to launch a judicial review into the borough council’s vote to introduce a statement of licensing policy (SLP).

Councillors voted unanimously​ on limits for new licensed venues in July, sparking criticism that young people working in the night-time economy and independent LGBTQ+ venues had been overlooked.

The group hopes to crowdfund​ £20,000 to begin the process, with an estimated total cost from court costs, legal fees and cost protection of £53,000.

New limits 

Under the new policy, new venues must close at 11pm on weekdays and 12midnight on weekends, with outside drinking banned after 10pm. Operators can apply for extensions if they can prove longer hours would not disrupt the area.

Some 84% of residents said they opposed the measures in a consultation by the east London council.

Matthew Sanders of We Love Hackney said: “Hackney is the most exciting borough, in the greatest city, in the world.

“Hackney's incredible nightlife has brought jobs, culture and investment to the borough – and is the reason many people, especially younger people, choose to live and work here.

“The council’s new restrictions on nightlife, which were overwhelmingly opposed by local residents in the council’s own consultation, penalise the small, local and independent businesses that make Hackney special.”

Law firm Leigh Day and barristers Philip Kolvin QC and Christopher Knight will apply for a review on behalf of the group.

Equality concerns

Anna Dews, solicitor at Leigh Day, added: “The public sector equality duty requires the council to consider the equality impact of policies it is proposing to adopt.

“In the case of the SLP, the council failed; it had no proper regard to the impact of the decision on young people and the LGBTQ+ community in Hackney, communities that our clients say are the very reason Hackney is such a great place to live, work and visit.”

Trade body UKHospitality reiterated concerns the ‘one-size-fits-all’ policy would pose problems for night-time​ businesses in the area.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Hackney’s one-size-fits-all approach goes against the spirit of the Licensing Act and the mayor’s vision of a global 24-hour city with a world-class late-night culture. Not only will this stifle new venues, it will undermine investment in existing bars, nightclubs and pubs.

“Hackney’s late-night venues are some of the best in the capital and help contribute enormously to the local community. The council’s proposed policy will only prove detrimental to the area.”

The council said the policy was not a blanket ban and was intended to ensure new late-night businesses had a positive impact on the borough.

Related topics: Licensing law

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