SINCE SUMMER 2016 following the opening of London’s night tube, the UK has been undergoing a business revolution.
The development of the night tube has increased the net worth of the nation’s night economy, enabling the capital to bring in £23bn in the last year according to government statistics published in May 2017. In addition, one in eight people in the city work between the hours of 8pm and 4am.
London’s growing night economy has been perpetuated and supported by the thriving gig economy. Similarly, by providing a variety of events and the necessary infrastructure, London Mayor Sadiq Khan plans to make his city the most thriving night time economy in the world.
Khan’s impressive efforts are now regularly discussed inside City Hall. London’s first Night Czar, Amy Lame, was employed last year to work full-time in order to commit to the project. However, the capital’s commitment extends much further than this. The December 2016 Night Time Commission, chaired by Philip Kolvin QC, has been rigorously designed to include planners, licensing experts, venue owners, artists, the police, and media entrepreneurs as well as leaders of major cultural organisations, according to the London Assembly’s announcements this summer. Without a doubt, it is clear to see that plans to diversify and serve London’s night economy are certainly to be taken seriously.
However, although London is one of the international front players when it comes to its night economy, it is certainly not without tough competition from other nocturnal cities around the globe. Amy Lame is not the world’s first night time politician. In 2012 Amsterdam elected ex-club owner Mirik Milan as their first Night Mayor and Milan’s success has been visible through the development of multidisciplinary buildings, allowing spaces to evolve into creative hubs at night, which has enabled the maximisation of trade.
In fact Milan is viewed to be the front player of this economic shift and more recently hosted the first ‘Night Mayor Summit’ in Amsterdam back in April 2016. This was attended by representatives of many international cities featuring speakers such as Dr. Adam R Winstock, the founder of the Global Drug Survey, and attended by the likes of Japanese rapper Zeebra.
Since Mirik Milan became the first night economy leader in 2012, 80 per cent of all global cities are now beginning to think strategically about investing in their after hours economies. The success of Amsterdam prompted Sydney to rethink its own position regarding the night economy. By relaxing its alcohol laws in 2013, the Sydney City Council was able to provide smaller bars with more liberty to sell in an increased number of locations. Furthermore, despite expectations of a crime wave, crime and violence has been reduced in Sydney as a result of its improved night time economy. With more appropriate locations being provided for people to behave freely, authorities have been able to provide a more secure and safe environment.
However, promoting the development of a ‘dark economy’ does not always have positive consequences. Antisocial behaviour, including cases of assault and aggression, is often more common at night. In addition, promoting a culture of drinking leads to an increase in binge drinking and alcohol induced incidents, often putting more strain on public services.
A trade-off is therefore created between whether it is plausible to invest in the precautions necessary to keep people safe at night, or whether it is in fact a more secure economic option to instead invest more in the daytime economy and leave available spaces to be slept in by families or students at night.
Nevertheless, after the explosion of youth culture in the 1960s it is certainly not a new development for businesses to act outside of a nine to five structure. However, it is refreshing to see a shift towards maximising the enormous economic potential of London’s nightlife, after the city’s heavy focus on the financial sector.