Jonathan Prynn, Evening Standard, 16.03.16
Boris Johnson has ordered a six-month inquiry into London’s night time economy following the closure of a series of high-profile clubs.
The Night Time Commission will make recommendations on how to “protect and manage the night-time economy” this autumn, shortly after the launch of 24-hour weekend Tube services.
One suggestion is London should copy cities such as Amsterdam and Paris and appoint a “Night Mayor” to champion the nocturnal economy. There is concern that without action the capital will lose out to cities with flourishing club scenes like Berlin.
Britain’s night time economy is said to be worth £66 billion a year and employs 1.3 million people.
However, London’s late-night bar, restaurant and — particularly — club scene has come under increased pressure in recent years, in part due to a tougher approach to licensing and policing, but also because of greater residential development.
It is estimated that half of Britain’s nightclubs have shut over the past decade. In the capital, well-known names such as Vibe Bar in Brick Lane, Madame Jojo’s in Soho and Club Colosseum in Vauxhall have vanished.
Yesterday the Office for National Statistic ejected nightclub entrance fees from the basket of goods used to calculate inflation because fewer people are spending cash on them.
The Mayor said: “The night time economy is hugely important to the prosperity and life of our city but there is insufficient oversight of the way it is managed and problems are mitigated. It’s brilliantly successful but night time activities can be seen as causes of noise and nuisance, while businesses complain rising property values, the need for housing, licensing requirements and red tape are damaging their operations, even leading to closures. If we are to compete against other world cities it is vital that we develop policies to reconcile the needs and concerns.”
It is expected that the commission will be chaired by Munira Mirza, deputy mayor for education and culture, and will include representatives from Transport for London, the Metropolitan Police, business organisations and local government. Its projected cost is £90,000.
It follows last year’s publication of the Music Venues Rescue plan, which recommended the appointment of a night-time economy champion.
Alan Miller, chairman of the Night Time Industries Association said: “With London growing by millions over the coming years, pressures on policing and the need for new housebuilding, the commission is an effective way to engage all voices.”