Businessman accuses council of playing poker with Dalston after it approves plans to restrict late-night licences in area

MArk Shaffer

MArk Shaffer - Credit: Archant

A policy which could impact Dalston’s reputation as a go-to nightspot was given the green light last Wednesday.

Town Hall bosses approved a motion for a special policy area (SPA) to restrict the amount of new premises being given a late-night license.

The plans were unanimously approved by the council despite 84 per cent of people consulted opposing. More than 2,400 residents and businesses wrote to the council during the 12-week consultation period from June to October to say they opposed the scheme. Nearly half of them - 1,100 - believed the move would destroy the night-time economy and culture of the area.

People in support of the idea cited noise disturbance as the biggest issue facing them. Only 151 respondents listed this as an issue.

The SPA will run from the junction of Kingsland High Street and Middleton Road in the south and the junction of Stoke Newington Road and Evering Road in the north.

Cllr Emma Plouviez, licensing committee chair said: “Dalston is one of the most vibrant parts of the borough and has a great selection of restaurants, bars and clubs attracting people from across London. This is great for the local economy, but it’s also becoming increasingly apparent that we have to manage growth if we are to ensure that litter and anti-social behaviour does not get worse – it is already affecting the quality of life for residents who live nearby.

“Having the SPA does not mean an absolute ban, it aims to strike a balance, by attracting the right type of responsible licensees to complement existing measures to reduce litter and antisocial behaviour.”

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However, the move has angered many local businesses. Mark Shaffer, the brains behind popular venues such as The Alibi in Kingsland High Street, Birthdays in Stoke Newington Road and the White Rabbit in Bradbury Street, said: “The reasons that the council has put forward are flimsy. They are obliged to listen to community stakeholders. The police need more man power. The council collect tax revenue and should have helped police with funding extra man power for the area. When it comes to maintaining the area, the council are not doing it.

“The council are playing poker with the area and are gambling with people’s lives. Look at what happened to Efes. They killed somebody’s livelihood without thinking about it. Everyone who has put money into this area really believes in it. This will push small operators like me away. The only people who can take a risk now are international companies. Dalston will start to look like any other town in the UK with chains such as Costa Coffee. It’s a real shame.”