The United States has a drug czar, Canada has an auto czar, and now London is looking for someone to be Britain’s first night czar.
According to a job posting released by the London mayor’s office on Wednesday, the night czar “will champion the value of London’s night time culture whilst developing and diversifying London’s night time economy.” He or she will also “create a vision for London as [a] 24-hour city and a roadmap showing how the vision will be realized.”
The move is part of a growing effort in London and other European cities to expand their economies and clean up the more unsavoury aspects of nightlife.
London estimates the city’s late-night economy is worth £26.3-billion annually ($45-billion) and employs 723,000 people. It is expected to grow to £28.3-billion by 2029, according to a study commissioned by the city. Last weekend, Transport for London started the Night Tube, a 24-hour underground service on the Victoria and Central lines, and more lines will be added in the coming years. The city has also launched a night-time commission to study how to expand overnight services and attract more late-night businesses.
Paris, Zurich, Toulouse and Berlin are among several European cities that have appointed night mayors to crack down on anti-social behaviour, tighten security and improve relations between residents and clubs, bars and restaurants.
Amsterdam has gone the furthest. Mirik Milan has been the city’s full-time night mayor for four years. The post is funded equally by the mayor’s office and local businesses.
“My role is to ensure Amsterdam has a dynamic nightlife,” he said in an interview on Wednesday. “We really want to bridge the gap between the municipalities, small business owners, like nightclubs and festivals, but also city residents.”
Mr. Milan said the primary concern has been improving safety and stopping what he called the mayhem that occurs when bars and clubs all close at the same time. The city recently launched a three-year pilot project that involves hiring “hosts” to patrol public squares at night on weekends gently telling late-night revellers they must behave. “They explain to people what the house rules are,” he said. “No anti-social behaviour.”
A new app allows people to report a disturbance or public nuisance, such as loud noise or people lurking on stairways, to community officers who are on patrol. These officers do not have the power of police, but they can issue tickets and call police if necessary. And officials have given a handful of bars 24-hour licences to reduce the after-hours congestion on the streets. Mr. Milan said each applicant for an extended licence is assessed on its safety record and “whether it will add something to the nightlife of Amsterdam and will the neighbours be okay?”
“It’s not always clamping down but sometimes letting go to make the situation better,” he added.
Amsterdam has become a leader in developing its nightlife. Last April, the city held a night mayors’ summit that brought together officials from across Europe to discuss night-time issues including security, public health, infrastructure, housing and urban planning.
Mr. Milan welcomed London’s plan for a night czar, and said cities in Canada should consider hiring them. “Cities are different, but what people want is more or less the same,” he said. “We have to come up with good pragmatic solutions to deal with it and to make it safer, better.”
London is not going as far as Amsterdam and other cities that also have full-time night mayors. For now, the night czar will work two and a half days a week for a salary of £35,000.Report Typo/Error