Much was made of Amy Lamé’s appointment as London’s first ‘night czar’ back in November 2016. The then newly elected Mayor Sadiq Khan trumpeted that she would be a ‘much-needed ambassador for the city after dark… a fantastic hire who will give a big boost to our city’s flourishing nightlife’ with a ‘proven track-record of helping save venues’. But fast forward six years and such rhetoric seems somewhat hollow now.
Estimates vary as to how many London venues have closed in recent years. One count claims 58 venues shut during the pandemic – or 25 per cent of the capital’s nightclubs. Khan’s own City Hall points to data which suggests that the number of venues operating as nightclubs in the capital dropped by 22 per cent between 2019 and 2021, the fewest since the mid-nineties. The pandemic was unavoidable and disastrous for nightclubs in major urban areas across the globe. But London punters appear to be far from impressed by Lamé’s performance in office: a petition was launched in July 2020 calling for her to quit.
A week after that petition began, in August 2020, Lamé gave an interview to the Observer in which she claimed that ‘I will be judged by the work that I do.’ That same piece featured ‘unanimous’ criticism from ‘more than a dozen club owners, promoters and nightlife workers’ who believed that she had ‘achieved little in the post.’ Indeed, only 27 of Lamé’s much-vaunted ‘night surgeries’ are listed on her online page as being held between December 2016 and May 2022: an average of one every two and a half months.
Her supporters in City Hall suggest she has helped stem the fall in the number of grassroots music and LGBTQI+ venues, launching the Women’s Night Safety Charter and a £500,000 programme to create new Night Time Enterprise Zones.