Sadiq Khan’s office has insisted that supporting London’s night time economy remains a “key priority” for the Mayor despite him planning to significantly cut spending on the sector.
Both during his campaign for the Mayoralty and since taking office, Mr Khan has repeatedly spoken of the importance of London’s night scene which City Hall estimates is worth more than £26bn to the capital’s annual GDP.
Last summer the Mayor sought to demonstrate his support for the sector by announcing night club promotor Amy Lamé as “the UK’s first-ever Night Czar”.
However the appointment became mired in controversy after it emerged that despite City Hall’s spinning, Ms Lamé is not an employee of the Mayor’s and that Mr Khan had in fact awarded her company a one year consultancy contract.
In addition Ms Lamé was forced to apologise after profanity-laden comments she made about a number of politicians, including former chancellor and incoming Evening Standard editor George Osborne, came to light.
Mr Khan also found himself having to drop plans for his new “Czar” to chair the Night Time Commission set up by predecessor Boris Johnson after it was decided that the combined job could not be fulfilled by a single office holder.
Since appointing Ms Lamé, the Mayor has made a series of headline-grabbing interventions on the future of London’s night clubs and venues, as well as opposing the closure of the Fabric night club despite police and local council concerns about the safety of patrons.
However, despite Mr Khan’s public support for the night time economy, City Hall’s own budget plans show that he’s planning to slash funding on initiatives to support it from £111,000 this year to just £45,000 per year for the remainder of his term.
Asked to comment on the reductions, Mr Khan’s office insisted he’s made the night time sector “a key priority” for his administration.
They added: “He appointed Amy Lamé as Night Czar in November 2016, followed by Philip Kolvin QC as Chair of the Night Time Commission in December 2016.
“They are working together to develop a vision for a 24-hour economy and a roadmap of how this vision will be delivered.
“To support this work over the next year, funding has been allocated for a number of initiatives, including new research on the capital’s night time economy, a campaign to champion the city as a 24-hour destination and a summit, bringing together key players from the sector.”
However Conservatives on the London Assembly say the planned cuts raise questions about the Mayor’s longterm commitment to supporting the sector which is project to grow in importance in the coming years.
The party’s leader at City Hall, Gareth Bacon AM, said: “Sadiq Khan claimed that boosting the night time economy was one of his key objectives, but this funding cut along with the messy appointment of his Night Czar might suggest otherwise.
“The Mayor was right to carry on the work of his predecessor and put emphasis on improving the night time economy, though it seems very premature to more than halve its intended budget only after one year.
“We need to see what this money is being spent on, and make sure the Mayor is doing his utmost to help London’s economy.”