Back in July, Hackney Council voted unanimously to impose a curfew on all new pubs, bars and clubs opening in the borough. The motion stated that venues would be forced to turn out their punters by 11pm on weeknights, and midnight at the weekend.
Predictably, this proved unpopular with local promoters. ‘With new businesses facing either shorter opening hours or [paying ] lawyers’ fees to fight for a late licence, it’s only going to be big chains that can afford to open in Hackney,’ VFD owner Lyall Hakaraia warned us in July.
Now community group We Love Hackney (WLH) is heaping pressure on the council by taking them to court. ‘We’ve decided to launch a Judicial Review to have the new restrictions overturned,’ spokesperson Matt Sanders tells us. ‘We’re working with Leigh Day solicitors, who specialise in equalities cases, and Philip Kolvin QC, who successfully defended Fabric nightclub.’
The legal challenge hinges on the allegation that the council didn’t consider that its decision would disproportionately affect certain groups.
‘The council are prioritising the cultural interests of older, more affluent people at the expense of everyone else,’ argues Sanders. ‘Legally, the council have to consider everyone’s needs when they make decisions. We think they have failed to do so here.’
WLH also contends that the decision could be especially detrimental for the area’s LGBT+ nightlife. ‘LGBT+ venues are far more likely to be small, independent and community-owned,’ says Sanders.
We asked Hackney Council for a response but they declined to comment.
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Check out Time Out's guide to Hackney here