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London appoints first night czar

Amy Lamé, a writer, broadcaster, performer and campaigner who was previously mayoress of Camden, will begin by organising a series of 'night surgeries' with businesses

By IQ on 04 Nov 2016

Amy Lamé, London night czar

London today became the biggest city so far to appoint a ‘night czar’ to champion and protect its nightlife.

The hiring of Amy Lamé, an American-born broadcaster, writer and gay rights activist, follows the appointment of night mayors in other cities in Europe and North America, including Berlin, Amsterdam and San Francisco. The creation of the post, which pays £35,000 per annum for two-and-a-half days a week, was a manifesto commitment of London’s new mayor, Sadiq Khan.

Khan’s office says Lamé (pictured) was “appointed based on her extensive knowledge and experience of the night-time economy, having built her career in the industry over the last two decades. She has a proven track record in the area, fighting for the future of one of the capital’s legendary LGBT+ [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender +, with the “+” representing other sexual/gender minorities] venues, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern”. In addition to her work as a radio and TV presenter, performer, writer and journalist, Lamé was from 2010 to 2011 ceremonial mayoress of Camden.

Lamé’s first initiative as night czar will be a series of monthly ‘night surgeries’, in which she will speak to businesses, night-time workers, residents and members of the public “to get an understanding of Londoners’ views of the night-time economy”.

“Making Amy night czar is the right kind of investment in all our futures”

Jo Dipple, the CEO of industry umbrella association UK Music, says: “The appointment of Amy Lamé as night czar is brilliant news for London’s music scene, much of which operates outside nine-to-five office hours. In 2015 concerts and festivals attracted 3.2m tourists to London, who spent £1bn in the process.

“Sadiq Khan knows the night-time economy must be sustainable for Londoners, for businesses and for fans. Making Amy night czar is the right kind of investment in all our futures. I would like other cities to follow Sadiq’s lead and put a woman in charge of the night.”

Music Venues Trust’s Mark Davyd adds: “Music Venue Trust warmly welcomes the announcement of the first ever night czar for London. London’s night-time economy plays a crucial role in the success of the capital. […] We look forward to working with the new Night Czar to ensure that London’s grassroots music venues are secured, protected and improved.”

While the appointment of London’s first night mayor/czar is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, it remains to be seen how much influence Lamé will have on local authorities – such as Islington council, which recently forced the closure of Fabric. Speaking to IQ in September, Columbo Group (The Camden Assembly/Barfly, Jazz Café) founder Steve Ball expressed doubts about how much difference City Hall can actually make on the capital’s nightlife: “The way licensing is in London means the decision lies with the boroughs, not with City Hall,” he said, “and I’d argue that licensing authorities can often be backwards in their views. When you put licensing at a borough level you get a NIMBYish attitude.”


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