Could Night Mayors be the dream answer to 24 hour cities?

With the night time economy seen as the saviour of many cities – would Night Mayors bring harmony between the sleepless and those wanting to sleep? With the late night bars, buses, kebab shops and clubs that keep our cities lively we also get noise. How can the sleep rneeds of workers (maybe the cleaners and street sweepers who rise as the revellers head to bed) be reconciled with the lifestyles of 24 hour party people? Cuts to local government funding, mean traditional night time noise services are under pressure – for example the night noise service in Brighton was suspended, but following a budget review it is now reinstated to run on Friday and Saturday nights. Also the communty policing serives that have been keeping calm in neighbourhoods are now subject to cuts. Across Europe other cities who take pride (and pounds or euros) from  promoting a party culture think they may have found a more comprehensive solution to night noise and nocturnal anti-social behaviour – the Night Mayor. The thinking is that a politician solely responsible for overseeing night time culture, who cultivates relationships between the businesses and customers of the night time economy, and citizens who want to sleep, is the way forward.

This night mayor model is being pioneered in Amsterdam – where a partnership between the city and businesses formed an ngo that is working to cultivate the economic and creative benefits and night time culture brings – while ensuring it co exists in harmony with the citizens who want to sleep. And Amsterdam isn’t alone – other Dutch cities are using the model as well as Zurich.

In London the option of night management is under consideration.  Last month London Mayor Boris Johnson confirmed plans for a Night Time Commission, to investigate protection and management of the night time economy. This announcement follows a Music Venues Rescue plan, published last year – which highlights concerns at the continuing closure of London’s small music venues.  Not all venues have the might of the Ministry of Sound – who, following a drawn out planning battle made a deal with developers who have added noise mitigation criteria and residents of their development waiving the right to complain about any noise. Smaller venues face the challenge of tiny (or non-existent) budgets for noise mitigation or legal challenges to developers. While venues, promoters and musicians need to be aware of their responsibilities to neighbours when it comes to noise, maybe Night Mayors could be the dream solution for cities?

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