The Future of Croydon’s Night-Time Economy – Discussion 1 February

 

Tory Councillor Mario Creatura has set up a meeting at Matthews Yard on Monday 1 February at Matthews Yard to discuss the future of the night economy in the Town Centre.

He writes: ‘Lots of people are divided about whether Tiger Tiger closing is a good or a bad thing, but we can all agree that Croydon’s night-life has been declining for a number of years now and it doesn’t seem like anything is being done to stop it.

I want to know why this is and hope that by asking people in Croydon what they want from a night in the town centre that we can come up with some ideas for how to turn things around.

I’m holding this public meeting to try to generate some discussion, and hopefully some answers, to build a town centre night-time economy that provides something for everyone.

The meeting is intended to be a broad group discussion on the state of Croydon’s night-time economy. It is hoped that from this initial meeting that more steps can be taken for a report to eventually be presented to Croydon Council for their consideration.’

Matthews Yard, off Surrey St. mario.creatura@croydon.gov.uk

For some background see:

http://www.croydonadvertiser.co.uk/BREAKING-VIEWS-Croydon-family-friendly-things/story-28548079-detail/story.html

Fairness Commission

I was surprised that in its interim report the Commission favoured the development of the night-time economy. In my comments I argued that ‘It needs to consider what it actually means by that. Does it mean boosting the evening economy  to 11pm, or the economy into the small hours such as 2am? The core elements of the night time economy until 2am or later are bars, pubs, restaurants, and music venues. This sector depends on low wage employees, who are often subject to anti-social shift systems, many of whom have problems getting home by night-buses if they cannot afford to own a car, and often have to return to work for an early shift the next day. Residents living in areas where there is a night-time economy up to 2am or beyond have to put up with anti-social behaviour fuelled by drink and possibly drugs, and high levels of noise. There is no justification for priority being given to the small number of potential night-time customers especially given the problems and costs that are created.  I suggested that the Commission consider deleting the recommendation to support the growth of the night time economy beyond 11pm at night. The Commission final report is published on 28 January, so its final views can be taken into account on 1 February.

Croydon Arts Network Concern

In their submission on the Council’s Local Plan Croydon Arts Network members argued that there needs to be a definition of what ‘the night-time economy’ add to the end of Strategic Policy SP3.9  (The Metropolitan Centre Retail and Office Space). They also proposed an additional Strategic Policy SP3.10A:

‘In promoting the night-time economy the Council will ensure that it does not create problems of safety for customers, staff and residents, noise and anti-social behaviour, and that employers pay the London Living Wage and adopt employment practices that do not require employees to work long working hours and unhealthy shift patterns.’

In support of these two amendments they argued:

‘There are concerns about stimulating the night-time economy such as safety, noise and anti-social behaviour, its dependence of low wage employment, working hours and unhealthy shift systems. There is a  definition in The Glossary (Strategic Policies. p.127):

‘The provision of a range of leisure and cultural facilities which provide jobs and entertainment for visitors and residents, including bars, clubs, music venues, restaurants, cinema, and theatres. Together these support and strengthen the town centre’s economic standing and attraction beyond its function as a day-time workplace and shopping centre.’

This does not include what period of time is meant by ‘night-time’. There needs to be clarification of this. e.g. to state what hour it ends: e.g. 11pm, 12 midnight, 1 pm, 2pm or later.’

Croydon TUC Croydon Assembly Local Economy and Housing Working Group Concerns 

In the Local Plan the Council proposes to stimulate the night-time economy (Strategic Policy SP3.8.). The Working Party proposed deletion of reference to the ‘night-time economy’.

It argues that:

  • it ‘appears that the last full study by the Council of the night-time economy in Croydon seems to have been carried out by the Scrutiny Committee in 2001.’
  • ‘There was a statement at the January 2015 Council meeting as a result of a question from Councillor Stephen Mann asked Councillor Mark Watson: ‘How has Central Croydon’s night economy developed since 2000 in terms of a) turnover b) number of venues c) taxpayer policing cost d) footfall?’
  • ‘Research elsewhere in London and other major cities since 2001 shows there are both positive and negative aspects to promoting night-time economies.’
    • Did the Council carry out an assessment of the night-time economy implications of the scheme, and if so what are its conclusions?
    • If it did not why not?’
  • ‘Bearing in mind the high level of low income in the Borough there is a limit to the number of Croydonians who have the money to engage with the night-time economy other than as low paid exploited workers, especially as a growing percentage of the population, namely Moslems, are non-drinkers of alcohol. So if the aim is to attract non-Croydonians into the Town Centre at night then there have to be significant improvements to public transport. In terms of equal opportunities the development of a night-time economy can be seen as discriminatory, devoting large resources to more privileged sections of society, and not really contributing to social well-being and actually helping to damage health. The other interpretation is that the aim is to help drive the gentrification of the Borough to change the socio-economic composition of its residents by driving out low income households.’

The Reply to Stephen Mann’s question

‘The night-time economy for central Croydon has deteriorated over a number of years.

There are plans in place however to renew and improve the offer in terms of both quality and offer.

A) Specifically regarding turnover, this information is not gathered on such a basis as it is commercially sensitive to the businesses themselves.

B) The Office of National Statistics provide counts of local business units back to 2010. These are broken up by Standard Industrial Classifications based on the primary activity of the business. Between 2010 and 2014 the number of Restaurants and Mobile Food Service Activities businesses in the borough increased by 55 businesses and in central Croydon this increased from 80 to 85.

…..

(C) We do not have any information on the taxpayer policing cost of the Croydon night time economy. Neither the council or the police have determined the taxpayer policing costs of central Croydon’s night economy. However, on average Croydon police are deploying 22+ officers into the Town Centre on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday night to respond to the night time economy, whereas prior to the introduction of the Local Policing Model it was in the region of 8-10 officers.

The introduction of the new neighbourhood shift rota, which is different to the way the area was policed in the previous years, has allowed them to increase the number of officers significantly. The Croydon Town Centre Business Improvement Company also match funds five additional Police staff to support the day and night-time economy.

  1. D) Footfall has been tracked since August 2003. For the 2014 calender year the footfall entering central Croydon through George Street at Waitrose, North End M&S, George Street, Burton, and High Street at Tiger Tiger between 5pm and 11.59pm was 7.8 million.

Across the three months from October 19th to December 19th 2014 1.58 million people entered the town centre an 33% increase on the same period 2003 (and increase of 519,000 people). ….

Over the quarter from September 19th to December 18th 2014 the number of visitors to the Croydon town centre between 5pm and 12am on a Thursday was approximately 260,000 people. This is approximately a 50,000 person increase on the same period in 2003. ….

With regard to number of venues, the licensing landscape has changed significantly since 2002. With the introduction of the Licensing Act 2003, in 2005 and courts no longer issue issuing licences it is difficult to compare. Pre the Licensing Act 2003, the council used to issue public entertainment licences – so any venue that wished to provide entertainment such as live music or a dance floor needed a licence from the council and we issued about 70 of those which were renewed annually. This was predominantly for town centre premises such as the nightclubs and also church halls etc. across the borough that held discos and put on plays/pantomimes.

The council also issued what were called night café licences for premises that wished to sell hot food after midnight and there were about 45 of those.

The Licensing Act 2003 merged all 3 types of licence into one – issued by the Council – and many premises took the opportunity to add entertainment to their licence i.e. the pubs and restaurants that didn’t previously have/need an entertainment licence. The Licensing Act 2003 also made selling hot food after 11pm licensable, which captured a lot of takeaways and restaurants that didn’t previously need a licence. ….

The town centre has changed with the number of straightforward pubs reduced in all areas of the borough and the town centre venues now all offering alcohol, food and entertainment. We have also seen the emergence of the food quarter (restaurants and food led pubs) in South End in recent years.

On average Croydon police are deploying 22+ officers into the Town Centre on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday night to respond to the night time economy, whereas prior to the introduction of the Local Policing Model it was in the region of 8-10 officers.

The introduction of the new neighbourhood shift rota, which is different to the way the area was policed in the previous years, has allowed them to increase the number of officers significantly.’

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About seancreighton1947

Since moving to Norbury in July 2011 I have been active on local economy issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly, and am a member of the latter's Environment Forum. I am a member of the 5 Norbury Residents Associations Joint Planning Committee, and a Governor of Norbury Manor Primary School. I write for Croydon Citizen at http://thecroydoncitizen.com. I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and advise the North East People's History Project.. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour movement, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
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