Group seeks judicial review into Hackney Council's licensing policy
Residents' group We Love Hackney has filed a petition for a judicial review into the manner in which Hackney Council introduced strict new licensing rules earlier this year.
New rules included a "core hours policy" setting out closing times of 11pm on weeknights and midnight at weekends, although the council claimed this would be a "guide" rather than a "blanket policy".
The rules were introduced despite warnings from bodies including UKHospitality that they would "stifle innovation and make Hackney's nightlife much less dynamic and attractive".
The group has argued that the decision to implement the new policy was unlawful because the council failed to consider the impact of the new rules on young people or the late night, independent venues which serve the LGBTQ+ community in the area.
A spokesperson for the residents' group said: "We know that young people disproportionately use and work in the night-time economy - they didn't do any kind of evaluation of what the impact of clamping down on nightlife might be on young people they also didn't do any kind of evaluation on what the impact could be for LGBTQ+ and minority communities in Hackney. We know that LGBTQ+ nightlife venues are declining and in crisis across London and these venues are more likely to be owned by the small, independent, community-based operators that we've always said this policy will disproportionately penalise. Those are our grounds."
Anna Dews, solicitor at law firm Leigh Day representing the residents' group, 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."
We Love Hackney has launched a crowdfunding campaign to fund legal costs, setting the aim of raising £20,000.
The group's spokesperson added: "This could have really big consequences, not just for Hackney. If we're successful it could change how licensing and policy decisions are influenced - older and more affluent people have disproportionate influence on council's decisions and what this case is explicitly saying is that council's are under a legal obligation to consider the impact of these policies on young people and minority groups as well."
Protesters (pictured) demonstrated against the move at Hackney Town Hall earlier this year as the rules came into force.
Hackney Council has declined to comment.
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