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FSB London response to Night Time Economy Consultation

19 February 2018

Question 1. What are the strengths of London’s night time economy? In other words, what is good about London at night?

We have an established transport system including a registered black cab network and weekend tube service, albeit limited. Areas that attract large groups are generally well-known, easy to find and securely patrolled by private security. The lit sky line, particularly above Waterloo Bridge is a World Class feature that is often under-appreciated.

  • Question 2. What are the weaknesses of London’s night time economy? In other words, what is not good about London at night? What does it lack?

A sense of being appreciated. The night time economy and those that work within it is the Cinderella of London. Those businesses finishing shifts at 11pm have few, if any, opportunities to relax and unwind from what are often the most stressful occupations. Pubs, restaurants,  coffee shops and cinemas are all closed. There is even less to do for those finishing work at six or seven in the morning.  The night time economy is blamed for noise and anti-social behaviour, in places taxed with a late night levy, and the feeling amongst businesses who operate in the night time economy is that they are treated with mild contempt by a day time community who expect their early mornings to go without a hitch, the shelves stacked and office cleaned.

  • Question 3. What are the threats to London’s night time economy? In other words, are there issues or trends which we will have to address in the short, medium or long term?

Finding staff willing to face a lengthy commute before or after anti-social hours is a challenge. Trained specialist staff are difficult to retain, in particular chefs. Apprenticeship schemes fail to mirror the industry and as a result reality soon dawns and young talent is lost. Colleges should be open to train throughout the night for those that will end up working night shift. Finally, visitors and workers deserve to feel safe.  The lack of visible policing and over-reliance on private security and CCTV fails to achieve a notion of safety. Often in the centre of London the streets are filthy, often poorly lit and petty criminality goes unchecked.

  • Question 4. What are the opportunities for London’s night time economy? In other words, how could London improve its night time offer? What should we be looking to develop?

We should make more of sleep-overs and night time visits to established attractions - London Zoo, Kew Gardens, The Tower, River boat excursions that include sunrise breakfasts, night time walks, cycle rides. We need to make more use of the Taxi knowledge – for instance discounted taxi rides that display London's night scene from the safety of an iconic cab. Spending a night in The Cabinet War Rooms for instance. The opportunity to create new attractions is only limited by the negativity of a day time community to working outside traditional working patterns.

  • Question 5.  What innovations, or ideas from other cities, would make London better at night? This might include commercial opportunities, ideas for events or marketing, initiatives to protect residents, visitors or workers, or ways to improve standards. If you have examples of good practice, we would like to know about them.

We should look to Barcelona to see how to make a clean, secure, well policed late night city work. We should be considering free travel on night transport for any shift worker carrying a 'night pass' between midnight and 6am.

  • Question 6. In July, the Mayor published his Vision for London as a 24-Hour City. It contains ten principles for the development of London at night. What do you like or not like about the vision? Are the ten principles right? What would you add or exclude, and why?

In London we have general animosity between residents and businesses. We need to remove ourselves from the ‘us and them’ culture which exists between ‘day and night’ economies.   For one to work well so to must the other. We need to try to find ways to balance proportionality through close working and careful consideration and not ‘stick’ approaches such as unfair levies and fines for noise complaints.

The London 2012 Games were a prime example of how the regulations, businesses and residents came together to operate and wonderfully crafted ‘night time delivery system’.  We must learn lessons from this to make this a reality in a 24 hour city. The upsides will also be less congestion in the daytime.