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Hackney Council approved a controversial licensing policy last week that their Licensing Committee had agreed to earlier this year.

The Chair of the Licensing Committee advises that Hackney has a fantastic nightlife with bars, clubs and restaurants known across London and the world.  She advises that as a Council, they are proud to champion businesses that make such a contribution to the borough, however, she also states that it is becoming more and more difficult to manage and strike a balance between supporting late night venues and the needs of residents who live amongst them.

Hackney is a small borough with high-density housing and very popular bars, restaurants and nightclubs that bring about tensions that are hard to manage.

In preparing the licensing policy, Hackney Council undertook extensive consultation.  The new policy will not affect existing businesses and will continue to consider each new application on its own merits.  The core hours recommended in their policy set out the basic hours that a business can expect to get a licence.

The onus will be put on new applicants to demonstrate that they are responsible, that they understand the pressures on the area and that they will not have a negative impact on the area if they want to open late.

The Council states that without these steps to manage nightlife, they could be faced with a position where they are forced to approve late night venues that are completely unsuitable and will have a huge impact on residents’ lives.

The Council unanimously voted in favour of the policy, whereby all new venues will automatically be unable to trade after 23:00 on weekdays and midnight at weekends.  To gain a licence outside of these hours will require applicants to demonstrate that their business will not have a negative impact on the area.

There are various reports that the majority of residents surveyed were against the new curfew times.

Many of the concerns relate to the new policy stifling innovation and making Hackney’s nightlife much less dynamic and attractive.  It is also mentioned that the Council’s decision runs counter to the Mayor of London’s vision for a 24-hour city and his plans to stimulate the night time economy in London.

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