Enjoy the extra hour this weekend

London’s Night Czar, Amy Lamé, has called on the capital’s residents and visitors to use the extra hour gained by the clocks going back this weekend to enjoy the city’s nightlife.

By Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

A woman with long dark hair
Amy Lamé, London\’s Night Czar. Credit: Greater London Authority

London’s Night Czar, Amy Lamé, has called on the capital’s residents and visitors to use the extra hour gained by the clocks going back this weekend to enjoy the city’s nightlife.

Her call came as she urged Ministers to provide more support to London’s nighttime economy, arguing that the culture and hospitality sector is “still facing significant challenges”.

The Government said it has introduced a range of measures to support businesses operating at night.

City Hall points out that London’s nightlife has recently been boosted by the opening of the Drumsheds venue in Tottenham, late-night licences for HERE and The Lower Third in Tottenham Court Road and extended hours for the Electric Ballroom in Camden, and She Soho and Little Ku in Soho. The Institute of Contemporary Arts on The Mall has also adjusted its hours to attract later visitors.

Despite post-pandemic changes in work patterns, Friday and Saturday nights remain the most popular nights of the week in central London, with people travelling in for evenings out.

Over the weekend of October 14-15 for example, ridership figures from TfL show that more than 107,000 entries and exits took place at stations on the Night Tube and Night Overground between 00:30 and 04:30 on the Friday night. On the Saturday night, the first night of Madonna’s world tour at the O2, there were more than 145,000 entries and exits during Night Tube hours.

Ms Lamé said: “London’s nightlife is the best in the world and as the clocks change this weekend I encourage Londoners and visitors to the capital to enjoy that extra hour and make the most of our longer winter nights.

“There are so many fantastic events and venues to experience, and I’m delighted that in recent months we’ve seen our capital roaring back from the impact of the pandemic. However, our nightlife, culture and hospitality industries are still facing significant challenges.”

The problems referred to by Ms Lamé include staff shortages, increased costs of doing business, and concerns about insecure leases and licensing issues.

She added: “We’re committed to doing all we can to provide our support as we build a more prosperous London for all, but we need Ministers to urgently step forward to provide the assistance so these vital businesses can reap the benefits of the vital ‘golden quarter’.”

The ‘golden quarter’ is a term used by the retail industry to describe the period starting in October and ending in December, when businesses tend to see a spike in sales in the build up to Christmas.

One of Ms Lamé’s requests to the Government is the re-introduction of VAT-free shopping, to help attract more international visitors.

Until January 2021, non-EU visitors to the UK were able to get a VAT refund on their shopping by presenting their receipt at the airport. The VAT refund scheme ended after the UK left the EU, with the Government arguing that it was “a costly relief which does not benefit the whole of GB equally”.

Responding to Ms Lamé, a Government spokesman said: “We’re supporting nighttime industry businesses with 75 per cent business rates relief, freezing alcohol duty rates, and reducing employer national insurance.

“In 2021 we established a [Hospitality Sector] Council to work closely with the industry to tackle the challenges they face, and we’ll continue helping them to grow and thrive in their local communities.”

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