Night czar Amy Lamé demands ‘urgent meeting’ over controversial Hackney licensing policy – which she was consulted on

Amy Lame and mayor Phil Glanville in happier times. Picture: Uyen Luu

Amy Lame and mayor Phil Glanville in happier times. Picture: Uyen Luu - Credit: Archant

Sadiq Khan’s night czar Amy Lamé has finally broken her silence on the Hackney licensing row – almost 24 hours after the controversial policy was approved by the council.

Campaigners had been asking the night-time economy rep to intervene ahead of the meeting on Wednesday at which the plans were signed off.

The hugely unpopular changes will see “core” midnight curfews for all new venues and a 10pm cut-off for outside drinking.

It will also see the size of the Shoreditch special policy area – in which it is essentially harder to open a venue – doubled.

The town hall says the fresh policy aims to strike a difficult balance between enabling the clubs and pubs to thrive and supporting neighbours and council tenants on estates in the area. It also wants to see more diversity, not just bars and clubs.

But of the 680 people who responded to a consultation on the changes, most of whom said they lived in the borough, 73 per cent were against them.

Ms Lamé has had numerous meetings with the council over licensing issues, including this policy, and remained quiet until the night of the vote, when she simply tweeted that such matters were for councils to decide, not her or Mr Khan.

But as the backlash grew following the decision, she tweeted to say she had “demanded an urgent meeting” with Hackney mayor Phil Glanville.

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She wrote: “As @nightczar I’ve demanded an urgent meeting with @PhilipGlanville to express concern that @hackneycouncil’s restrictions will stifle its world renown nightlife-and to discuss a way forward.”

Mr Glanville hit back, saying she had known about the changes all along. Replying to her tweet, he said: “Odd given she’s been consulted throughout the process.”

As well as discussions on the policy, Ms Lamé has met council chiefs to ask for an impact assessment on Hackney’s late-night levy for all licensed premises, which was introduced last year. She has also called for a new business improvement district to be formed and said she wants to see a managed approach to the special policy areas in Shoreditch and Dalston.

A Mayor of London spokesman said: “Amy has asked for an urgent meeting with Hackney Council to discuss this issue.”

Hackney’s policies chief Cllr Caroline Selman said: “We were surprised by Amy Lamé’s request for a meeting as we’ve met and discussed the proposals with her before, provided her with briefings, and she was aware of the consultation earlier this year.

“However, we’re happy to meet again and discuss the policy, which has now been adopted.”

Campaign group We Love Hackney, which was formed to successfully see off similar plans three years ago, told the Gazette it was exploring ways to appeal the decision.

Figures from the food and drink industry with links to Hackney have also had strong words to say on the matter.

They include Henry Dimbleby, Jonathan Downey, Giles Coren, Marina O’Loughlin and Tom Parker-Bowles, who are all involved with London Union, the parent company of Street Feast, which runs Dinerama in Shoreditch.