Hackney Nightlife thriving despite tax rises

14 Mar , 2017  

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The London Night Czar has thrown her support behind a flourishing nightlife scene culture in Hackney, calling it “a hub of night time culture.”

“The borough will survive rising business costs, and continue to attract people from all over the capital,” said Amy Lamé.

Speaking during an evening walkabout in Dalston with Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville and local MP Meg Hillier, she said: “Hackney’s night time economy is as diverse as you can get. It is little wonder that this corner of the capital has become such a hub of night time culture.”

Mr Glanville was upbeat about the renewed efforts to keep the area popular.

Why is Dalston such a good night out?

Is Hackney still a good night out? We spoke to the Mayor of Hackney, MP Meg Hillier and London Night Czar Amy Lamé.

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Posted by Hackney Post on Tuesday, 14 March 2017

“What we are seeing is really well run venues like the ones we visited tonight, and music venues that we are planning to open in the area – so the investment is there.”

Both Ms Hillier and Ms Lamé said that they couldn’t see any evidence to suggest that fewer young people were going out at night in Hackney.

Pointing to the high street, packed with young people at close to midnight,

Ms Lamé, appointed Night Czar by London Mayor Sadiq Khan to ‘help shape its future as a 24-hour city’, said: “There’s young people everywhere I go! I don’t know where you’re going?! You need to come out with us more often!”

“That’s not a problem round here,” said Ms Hillier.

However, evidence which shows that more young people are staying in rather than going out  and that night venues are suffering as a result.

According to a recent survey, the proportion of young adults who are teetotal increased by 40% between 2005 and 2013, while those who do drink are consuming 19% less than people of the same age in 2004.

50% of London nightclubs have shut in the last five years and 57% of live music venues have also closed their doors permanently.

Mr Glanville noted that the culture around nightlife had changed, but expressed confidence in Hackney’s ability to attract partygoers.

Speaking on a busy Kingsland Road, he said: “It is true that people are eating at home more often. You’ve seen the whole gig economy and people are eating in, so when they go out, they want a good experience.

“They aren’t just going out on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday night anywhere – what they want is really interesting experiences – so I think we are seeing an evolution of venues.

“We’re seeing a lot of creativity with drinks, you’re seeing real ale and new cocktail bars. People want quality over quantity and that’s why I think Dalston is really attractive.”

On the street, partygoers and business owners gave mixed views about the situation.

“We believe in this area and in its nightlife. That’s why we’ve just opened,” said Roman, a young waiter from Untitled bar – a trendy cocktail joint on Kingsland Road.

“We are always busy, but our venue is quite exclusive. We are like a family,” said the guest list manager of ‘Visions video bar’– where grime artist Skepta is known to be a regular.

A skateboarder who called himself ‘Killer Chambers,’ holding a can of Thatcher’s cider behind Dalston junction station, said: “At the end of the day people can always find beer money. It’s the rent money that seems harder to find.”

Some young clubbers argued that there is more of a trend to stay in these days, listing cost, travel distance and work commitments.

Ariadne Hudson, a third year student at KCL said: “Drinks are always going to be expensive in London, but it’s the added costs. There’s travel, there’s entry fees, there’s food.

Sitting outside a buzzing Ophelia bar, she said: “That’s why I’m here – it’s free entry and there’s live music. It really depends on what the venue can offer each night.”

One thing that the locals and politicians all agreed on was the damage that the rise in business rates could do to local businesses.

London, on average, has seen a 9% jump in business tax, but in Hackney, the figure is 46% – the second highest in the country.

“I think that business rates really is the number one issue that small businesses are making me aware of in my work as Night Czar,” said Ms Lamé.

“Business rates and rents are the biggest challenges facing Hackney,” said the Hackney South and Shoreditch MP, Meg Hillier.

The complaints come after Chancellor Philip Hammond announced the planned adjustment in taxes paid to local government by businesses. The amount of tax paid is relative to the value of the property.

Mr Glanville added: “We are seeing a 46% rise in value being reflected in rent rises, with some businesses seeing up to 60% rises over the next couple of years.

“I don’t think that there is a sense that the diversity of Hackney’s economy or the diversity of London’s nightlife is being reflected in government decisions.”

This week, the Chancellor climbed down from a hardened stance and promised a £435 million rate relief fund to help pubs.

“I am pleased that there is the £1000 business rate relief for pubs. I’m hoping that extends to other types of venues,” said Mr Glanville.

“If it turns into a place where only chain multiples are able to run venues or restaurants then you lose that diversity that you see here in Dalston.

“In the long run we have to come up with a system that works for London and reflects the different types of economy we are trying to sustain.”

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