How can London’s Night Czar justify her £120,000 salary while London’s nightlife is dying?

11 March 2024, 13:37 | Updated: 11 March 2024, 13:41

How can London’s Night Czar justify her £120,000 salary while London’s nightlife is dying?
How can London’s Night Czar justify her £120,000 salary while London’s nightlife is dying? Picture: Alamy/LBC
Johnny Jenkins

By Johnny Jenkins

Amy Lamé says she’s making a difference as London’s Night Czar - but with hundreds of venues closing, now is the time for Lamé to prove her worth.

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It’s becoming impossible to find pubs still serving drinks in London after sunset.

Okay - sunset may be an exaggeration, but increasingly bars in central London are calling last orders at 10pm.

If you’re hungry after a few drinks in the evening, you’ll struggle to find anywhere serving food, aside from fast food restaurants. Even Greggs had its application for a 24-hour licence in Leicester Square denied last year.

With nightlife on the decline, now is the perfect time for a Night Czar who can improve London’s 24-hour offering. It’s been successful in Manchester under Sacha Lord who, as the city’s unpaid night-time economy adviser, has protected nightclubs and music venues.

In steps Amy Lamé. She’s been London’s Night Czar since 2016 and has overseen the closure of 1,000 bars and clubs in the once-bustling capital. She’s paid £120,000 annually.

The part-time DJ, who serves under Mayor Sadiq Khan, came out fighting last month. Writing behind a paywall in the Independent, Lamé said her role is to ‘support and supercharge the capital’s life at night’.

She’s also said she has the ‘best job in the world’. I certainly wouldn’t turn down the salary.

It must have been disappointing for the so-called Night Czar to see the hashtag ‘#LameLondon’ trending on Twitter this week.

Users took to social media to share pictures of empty venues in the capital. One journalist reported that a central London wine bar rang the bell for last orders before 9pm. Another shared an image of an empty street in the usually thriving Soho at 10pm.

Given nightlife in London is dying, it’s difficult for City Hall to justify Lamé’s recent 40% pay rise, taking her salary to £117,000 annually.

This six-figure wage packet is an insult to hospitality staff in the capital - currently earning just £11.41 an hour on average, according to jobs site Indeed.

Lamé is attracting criticism from all sides - I’ve never seen Twitter as united as it was last week, when commentators were discussing her record.

If I was advising the Mayor, I would suggest that he moves Lamé to a performance-based salary. She can continue to receive hundreds of thousands, but only if London’s nightlife is growing. If it continues to shrink, the pay cannot be justified.

London is a diverse city, full of people who love socialising. We all want to have a successful nightlife sector. Currently, this is far from the reality.

Amy Lamé has held her role for 8 years, but has never faced such close scrutiny. Now is the time for the Night Czar to justify her position.

Now is the time for the capital’s nightlife to prosper.

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