Late night venues operating on Temporary Event Notices ‘endemic’ issue

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"There are only three things guaranteed in life. Death, taxes, and a good night out in Shoreditch." Credit: Soda Club Guide

Residents of Hackney who put up with late-night noise from the borough’s thriving night-time economy could be missing a crucial detail in their quest for undisturbed sleep.

Hackney Council approved at least 85 per cent of applications from venues for one-off licences to sell alcohol, so-called Temporary Event Notices (TENs), between 1 January 2015 and 19 November 2017.

“A temporary event notice (TEN) can be used to authorise small-scale ad hoc events held in or on any premises, involving no more than 499 people at any one time,” a Hackney council website states.

A Freedom of Information revealed that, although there was the odd application from a primary school or a cultural organisation such as the Hackney Cypriot Association, the vast majority of applications in the last three years came from late-night venues that are already licensed to sell alcohol – but wanted to extend their operating hours for particular events.

Meg Hillier, MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch, described the number of applications for TENs as an “endemic” problem in Hackney in October last year.

“I support a good nightlife but we need to balance it with residents’ needs as well,” Hillier told the Hackney Post.

“I did a roving night surgery  in Shoreditch with Ame Lamé, the night tsar. It was very interesting to see how overwhelming it is, full of drunk people.

“I could possibly press to change the law in regard to Temporary Event Notices, which were originally designed to have a school PTA event with a drinks licence, that sort of thing. Now they are often being used by licensed premises to extend their hours,” Hillier said.

While individual premises can be given no more than 15 TENs per year, individual holders of alcohol licences, such as bar staff, can be given up to 50.

Between 1 January and 19 November 2017, 2033 TEN applications were made in the borough. Out of these, 1715 were approved, meaning nearly 85 percent of applications were successful.

In 2016, 2308 applications were made, of which 1968 were approved, a success rate of almost exactly 85 per cent as well.

In 2015, 2073 TENs received a green light in Hackney – over 95 per cent of all 2170 applications in that year.

While these figures seem to suggest that the council is adopting a slightly stricter approach today compared with three years ago, they also confirm that it is rather easy for a venue to obtain permission to operate outside its licensed hours.

Hackney residents who can’t get enough sleep could perhaps learn from their neighbours in Brixton, where sleep deprived locals have founded Sleepless Brixton, a campaign fighting for a compromise between residents’ needs and the area’s booming late night scene.

Helen Hayes, MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, who has been publicly endorsing the campaign since December, met with Amy Lamé last month to discuss the collision of interests between residents in her constituency and London’s ever expanding night economy.