The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has called on more venues to safeguard their LGBT+ nightlife, as two of London’s major pub companies sign up to his LGBT+ Venues Charter.
Sadiq has pledged to do all he can to protect the capital’s LGBT+ nightlife after figures revealed that the number of venues had more than halved in the past decade from 125 in 2006 to just 49 in 2017. New figures released today show that there are more encouraging signs for the future, with the number of venues stabilising at 52 for the last year, thanks to new venues opening – including The Cock Tavern, Kennington and Circa The Club, Embankment.
The Mayor is calling for more venues to sign up to his LGBT+ Venues Charter to help safeguard the future of London’s LGBT+ nightlife. The charter is a practical tool for developers, venues and pub companies to help protect venues at risk of closure or changing use, and encourage the opening of new venues.
Greene King and Stonegate, which are among London’s largest pub companies, are the latest to sign up to the charter, meaning that a fifth of the capital’s LGBT+ venues have now joined.
The Mayor and his Night Czar, Amy Lamé, have also launched a new partnership with Drinkaware and two LGBT+ venues, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern and G-A-Y, which will see the UK’s first ever pilot LGBT+ Drinkaware Crew working in clubs and venues to help support the welfare and wellbeing of people on a night out.
Last year, a report published by University College London Urban Laboratory showed that, despite continued demand, LGBT+ venues were closing rapidly because of external pressures such as large-scale developments, a lack of safeguarding measures in the existing planning system and the sale and change of use of venues. Other major drivers leading to closure include rising business rates and rents, as well as changes of ownership, which can sometimes lead to venues becoming targeted at non-LGBT+ clientele.
This led the Mayor and his Night Czar, Amy Lamé, to set out a series of measures to help stem the flow of closures. This has included publishing the most pro-LGBT+ pub framework the capital has ever seen in the Mayor’s draft London Plan; establishing a world-first ‘Culture at Risk’ Office to help save venues for communities; making the protection of venues an urgent priority, with the Night Czar acting as a mediator between venue owners, developers and pub companies; committing to an annual audit of venues; and launching the LGBT+ Venues Charter.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I’m proud that our capital stands as a shining light of diversity to the world and it’s important to me that the LGBT+ community always feels that they have a home in London. LGBT+ venues play a vital role in supporting the community and that’s why I’ve been working hard to support them with the capital’s most pro-LGBT+ planning strategy ever and my LGBT+ Venues Charter. I’m pleased that numbers have stabilised this year and urge even more venues to show their support for the community and ensure we halt the long-term decline.”
Night Czar Amy Lamé said, “I’m really encouraged that after a decade of decline, the number of LGBT+ venues in London has stabilised in the last year with new venues opening too. Make no mistake, there is still much more to be done to stop numbers falling, but we’re doing all we can to provide the support these vital venues need. We want to see more venues sign up to the Mayor’s LGBT+ Venue Charter now and show their long-term commitment to providing a home for the LGBT+ community.”
Simon Longbottom, CEO of Stonegate Pub Company, said, “As the biggest operator of LGTBQ+ venues in London and across the country we fully support safeguarding the future of pubs and venues for this important sector of our community. Having invested in this sector over the last few years our development programme sees no slowing down with a further capital investment of circa £2.2 million planned over the coming year. Greater flexibility of trading hours within London would further encourage investment, create additional jobs as well as better protect the provision of safe, welcoming LGTBQ+ venues for our customers.”
Elaine Hindal, Drinkaware CEO, said, “Drinkaware is delighted to be working with the Mayor and the Night Czar to bring the successful Drinkaware Crew initiative into the LGBT+ community. Drinkaware Crew members support vulnerable people whilst minimising the associated costs that drunken behaviour can have on the local night-time economy. They play a valuable role in keeping people safe on a night out. Drinkaware will be working with the Mayor and his team to develop bespoke training to give Crew the knowledge and skills to support the LGBT+ community which will help to keep more people in our capital safe.”
Jeremy Joseph, owner of G-A-Y, said, “G-A-Y is proud to be part of the first ever pilot LGBT+ Drinkaware Campaign. It is important that we create as safe an environment for our customers and I’m looking forward to G-A-Y working with Drinkaware and being part of something that can only be an incredible step forward in creating safer LGBT+ Nights out.”
James Lindsay, chief executive of Royal Vauxhall Tavern, said: “RVT is delighted to be part of the Drinkaware pilot, we have been part of the LGBTQ+ London scene for many years and initiatives such as Drinkaware that support and benefit our community should be welcomed. As a destination late night venue we all have a part to play in promoting safe and secure premises to our customers and the LGBTQ community.'
Alan Winter, managing director, of Baby Bull Group, which owns Circa, said: “Circa, Soho opened 7 years ago, during a period of time where there was a massive loss of LGBTQ+ venues. Our success has shown that there is still a need and a want for our own safe spaces to still exist. We’ve now expanded to Circa The Club on Embankment and the response so far has been amazing and overwhelmingly positive. We are confident in going forward and revitalising London’s LGBTQ+ nightlife.”