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Hackney campaign group challenges council's new licensing restrictions

​A group set up to promote the night-time economy in the London Borough of Hackney is challenging the new licensing rules adopted by the council.

Posted on 23 October 2018

We Love Hackney is a not for profit company set up by local residents who advocate and campaign for policies that support a diverse, innovative and thriving night-time economy for all local people in Hackney.
The group are fundraising for their legal case through CrowdJustice.
New restrictions under a revised Statement of Licensing Policy (SLP) were adopted by Hackney Council on 18 July 2018. The SLP extends and maintains the Special Policy Area (SPA) in Shoreditch and Dalston and adopts a new “core hours” policy.
The “core hours” policy requires venues to close at 11pm during the week and midnight at weekends, with no outside drinking allowed after 10pm. An express presumption has also been put in place against granting new late night licences for venues in the SPA.
We Love Hackney Ltd instructed Leigh Day, and barristers Philip Kolvin QC and Christopher Knight, to apply for a judicial review of the decision. The group argues the decision was unlawful because it failed to have due regard to the public sector equality duty, contrary to the Equality Act. They believe the council failed to consider the impact of the new rules on young people, who are more likely to use and work in the night time economy, and on the late night, independent venues which serve the LGBTQ+ community in the area. 
Hackney is a renowned for being diverse and vibrant area with a large population of young people. The group argues that forcing new businesses to restrict their operating hours will stunt creativity and innovation in the night-time economy in the area. They also claim by deterring new businesses from opening in Hackney, the night-time economy will stagnate.
Matthew Sanders of We Love Hackney, said:

“Hackney is the most exciting borough, in the greatest city, in the world. Hackney's incredible nightlife has brought jobs, culture and investment to the borough – and is the reason many people, especially younger people, choose to live and work here. The council’s new restrictions on nightlife, which were overwhelmingly opposed by local residents in the council’s own consultation, penalise the small, local and independent businesses that make Hackney special.”
Anna Dews, solicitor at law firm Leigh Day, added:

“The public sector equality duty requires the Council to consider the equality impact of policies it is proposing to adopt. In the case of the SLP the Council failed: it had no proper regard to the impact of the decision on young people and the LGBTQ+ community in Hackney, communities which our clients say are the very reason Hackney is such a great place to live, work and visit.”