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a guest Jul 18th, 2018 55 Never
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  1. Dear Councillor,
  2.  
  3. Tonight you will be asked to approve a new licensing policy for Hackney (Full Council Meeting, Agenda Item 11).
  4.  
  5. I am writing to you as this was brought to my attention by We Love Hackney, which is a group of Hackney residents who came together in 2015 to defend the independent and creative spirit of the borough’s nightlife – the reason many of us choose to live here. With over 4000 local supporters, they are the largest resident organisation in Hackney.
  6.  
  7. This issue is critically important to the future of our borough.  The night time economy directly supports 4,720 jobs (4.1% of those in Hackney), brings £219m into the borough – and, perhaps most importantly, has given Hackney a world wide reputation for its vibrant, diverse cultural life.
  8.  
  9. The policy you are being asked to approve is a gift to big corporates and risks turning Shoreditch into a bland replica of Leicester Square. By doubling the size of the Shoreditch Special Policy Area, the value of licenses in these areas will shoot up, freezing out local businesses or young people just starting out. A borough wide “core hours” policy and 10pm closing time for outdoor areas will kill innovation. Hackney will be left with one of the most restrictive licensing regimes in the UK – meaning only large chains or established businesses will be able to set up here.
  10.  
  11. Success in Hackney should be about the strength of your ideas and your commitment to running a responsible business – not the depth of your pockets.
  12.  
  13. The consultation (Appendix 2 in your meeting papers) showed that the Council’s plans are overwhelmingly opposed by local residents. 77.5% of respondents thought the new policy would promote the licensing objectives “poorly or not at all”.  Every single measure was opposed by a big majority of Hackney residents, including:
  14.     • 77% against doubling the size of the Shoreditch Special Policy area;
  15.     • 84% against expecting new bars to close at 11pm on weekdays and midnight at weekends, anywhere in the borough;
  16.     • 75% against closing outside areas at 10pm.
  17.  
  18. Over half of those taking part were younger people under the age of 35 – almost unheard of in a council consultation.
  19.  
  20. The council claims there are existing problems with a small number of licensed venues. But the new policy explicitly seeks to preserve the status quo, protecting existing businesses and freezing out the new competition that provides challenge and drives everyone towards high standards.
  21.  
  22. Hackney is one of the youngest and the most diverse boroughs in Britain. The spirit of Hackney – fun, imaginative and independent – has not come about by chance. It is the result of decades of hard work by people who love Hackney and want to cater to our diverse communities. Hackney residents would be devastated to see this creative spirit blown away by policy decisions that prioritise soulless chains and big business.
  23.  
  24. There is another way. The detailed response by We Love Hackney to the original 2015 consultation and subsequent engagement exercise, enclosed here, sets out why the plans are flawed and how the council, residents and businesses could work together to properly manage the night time economy, instead of shut it down.
  25.  
  26. I urge you to oppose the proposals in their current form.
  27.  
  28. Best wishes,
  29. *your name*
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