London (Parliament Politic Magazine) – London‘s Night Czar, Amy Lamé, is encouraging Londoners to savor the additional hour granted by the clocks turning back by indulging in and bolstering the city’s vibrant nocturnal economy.
She emphasizes the wealth of nightlife options available in the lead-up to Christmas. However, Rob Blackie, the Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate, believes that most people will likely use the extra hour to catch up on sleep.
Lamé is also advocating for VAT-free shopping for non-EU visitors, although the government contends that it has already offered support to this sector.
She stated, “We remain committed to providing our support as we strive to cultivate a more prosperous London for all. Nevertheless, we urgently need government ministers to step in and offer the necessary assistance so that these essential businesses can capitalize on the lucrative ‘golden quarter.'”
London’s Night Czar Urges Nightlife Enjoyment as Clocks Turn Back
The term “golden quarter” pertains to the period from October to December, during which businesses traditionally experience a surge in sales in anticipation of the holiday season.
The trade association UK Hospitality has expressed concerns about the hospitality industry’s capacity to manage the surge in demand. These concerns stem from staffing shortages, rising operational costs, and apprehensions regarding insecure leases and licensing issues.
Criticism of her role and endeavors to stimulate the nighttime economy has come from both the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives.
Mr. Blackie commented, “Business proprietors have conveyed their disillusionment, citing a lack of support from the Night Czar. Our early closing times and family-unfriendly licensing regulations pose a risk of making us appear less appealing compared to other European cities.”
Criticisms of London’s Night Czar’s Role and Efforts
Furthermore, Mr. Blackie disclosed that he has been in contact with several local councils who have indicated a reduced likelihood of granting late licenses compared to the past.
On the social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter), Ms. Lamé recently shared her advocacy for 4am licenses for two Soho establishments, namely Here and The Lower Third.
One of the critics of Ms. Lamé argue that greater efforts are required to bolster London‘s nightlife.
The Conservative mayoral candidate, Susan Hall, asserted in her statement to the BBC: “Sadiq Khan has been paying his associate nearly £120,000 annually to passively witness the erosion of our city’s nightlife. We must not continue to leave our bars, clubs, restaurants, and venues in the lurch like this.”
She has advocated for the implementation of targeted policies to tackle this problem.
The Debate Surrounding the Dismantling of Nightlife
Ms. Lamé has held her position since 2016, earning an annual salary of nearly £117,000. She also serves as a writer and presenter on BBC Radio 6 Music.
In her capacity as Night Czar, she advocates for the government’s reinstatement of VAT-free shopping to attract international visitors. Until January 2021, non-EU visitors to the UK were eligible for a VAT refund on their purchases by presenting their receipts at the airport.
This scheme ceased following the UK’s departure from the EU, with the government contending that it was a costly relief that did not equitably benefit the entire country.
A government spokesperson stated, “We are providing support to businesses in the nighttime industry through a 75% reduction in business rates, the freezing of alcohol duty rates, and a decrease in employer national insurance contributions.”
In the three months leading up to June, London experienced an increase of over one million tourists visiting the city, attributed to a higher attendance at live music events and robust cinema ticket sales.
According to Transport for London (TfL) data for the weekend of October 14-15, there were more than 150,000 entries and exits during Night Tube operating hours.
Is It Time to Abandon the Position of London’s Night Czar?
Recently, a live music venue near Oxford Circus, The Social, narrowly escaped closure thanks to a successful fundraising campaign. This has triggered discussions regarding the effectiveness of Amy Lamé, London’s night czar, and whether she possesses the necessary authority to fulfill her responsibilities.
Originally established by the mayor of London in 2016 to invigorate the city’s cultural landscape, some critics within the London Assembly now contend that the role of night czar is ineffective and should be eliminated.