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Nightclubs have suffered a hit – but that could be changing. The NTIA, Warm Street and Weymouth BID discuss the new wave of London clubs, and how the sector is in the midst of an underground resurgence.

 

Millennials are less inclined towards clubbing than previous generations, or so the statistics suggest. However, there’s more at play, including heavier regulation and tighter spending habits.

A report by the Night Time Commission, created by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan in 2017, suggested a raft of measures to keep Londoners occupied in the wee hours. These included opening libraries, markets, parks, museums and shops past 6pm.

Green Party London Assembly Member Caroline Russell however raised the issue of wages. “It’s disappointing that there is no recommendation about pay in today’s report for people working at night, when over half of million of them are already paid below the London Living Wage.

London’s night-time economy employs 1.6 million people – making up one third of London’s workforce, but can it grow further still, and have these measures worked?

A recent report by inRead invented by Teads published 10 recommendations to attract more Londoners out of their homes between 6pm and 6am. 

It says the Mayor should set up a transport group to ensure that workers and visitors can get around quickly and safely at night.

It reads: “The group should consider extending night services, introducing a ‘night rider’ fare that allows workers to move between bus, Tube, train, DLR or tram on a single fare, and encourage more use of TfL’s land and buildings at night.”

The night-time economy is already regarded as a success. A third of jobs and a quarter of public transport trips are at night. Two-thirds of Londoners, meanwhile, say they are active at night, working, socialising, at sport or cultural events or doing chores.

The NTIA’s head Alan Miller (pictured below) tells Access that the decline in clubbing has been real and more still needs to be done. “Over 14 years there has been enormous loss, particularly in London (with many venues over 1000 capacity in particular closing). Most of the issues have been linked to issues to do with over-regulation, licensing and cost within that too, increasing security, further requirements and expectations on licensed premises to take responsibility for ever further aspects both within and often around the venues. 

Miller says that, while early evenings in Soho and Shoreditch may look deceptively busy,  the loss of later night premises in Soho has been devastating. “Many clubs and venues have sprung up in Hackney and Lambeth – but there are so very few opening past 3am.”

He adds, however, that London has had major successes recently. “Printworks is enormous with flexible licensing, while FOLD in Newham recently and EarTh, by the same owners of Village Underground have sprung up.

“Lots of good things have happened – from our on-going lobbying to recognition by police and councils that mobile phone losses on insurance and police crime statistic reports should not be used against venues as them being responsible – to more broadly having a Night Time Commission and Music Board with Mayor of London, a newly appointed Night Time Economy Adviser for Manchester (Sacha Lord), a Night Time Commission in Glasgow and a new Commission in Bristol. 

“We have consistently strived to ensure partnership and collaboration with all stakeholders so that licensing councillors, police, BID’s, residents and visitors all understand the enormous value of both night and day licensed premises to the area. This is vital to proper management and the ongoing health of towns and cities up and down the country.”

Hackney, which should be a prime candidate for flourishing night activity with its craft beer pubs, street food markets and nightclubs, has suffered from resident issues.

The local borough council has approved plans for ‘core’ curfews of midnight at weekends and 11pm during the week for all new venues, with the onus on businesses to prove they will not have a negative impact on the area if they want to open later.

It also plans to double the size of the Shoreditch’s ‘special policy area’ within which venues must show they will not add to anti-social behaviour, crime and noise.

Other parts of the country are more proactive towards nighttime happenings.

Claudia Moore, chief operations officer at Weymouth BID, supports Best Bar None, an Accreditation Scheme supported by the Home Office and the drinks industry which is aimed primarily at promoting responsible management and operation of alcohol licensed premises.

Meanwhile, Robin Shaw, co-founder, Warm Street (pictured left), meanwhile, tells Access that scenes are still finding ways to survice and thrive. “Don’t believe the hype! London’s club scene is an amorphous entity which has always been driven by the incredible subcultures bubbling underground out of the mainstream eye.

“The scene may seem to be dying in areas like Shoreditch or West Hackney whilst it’s kicking off in another Hackney Wick, Tottenham Hale and Canning Town. 

“We’ve always told the brands we work with (like Red Bull) to focus on what’s coming next, avoid following the crowd and if you see it in the mainstream media you’re too late. Don’t be fooled, our city is as creative as ever. You just have to know where to look.”