Night tsar Amy Lamé hits back at critics and defends her London record

Amy Lamé, outside City Hall
Amy Lamé, outside City Hall

London’s night tsar Amy Lamé has defended her position after critics have questioned whether she has done enough to help London’s night-time economy.

A Sunday Times article took aim at Ms Lamé, whose “globetrotting” role has reportedly seen her travel to cities including Mumbai, Melbourne, Boston, Bologna, and Sydney since she was appointed London’s first night tsar in 2016.

Ms Lamé’s job sees her tasked with “ensuring London thrives as a 24-hour city”.

But during the pandemic, she faced criticism for not helping London nightlife enough, prompting a petition for her to be removed.

The 53-year-old has come under fire from those who feel she does not warrant her salary, which has risen to £116,695.

The Sunday Times highlighted research that showed other cities such as Liverpool and Birmingham - which were also impacted by the pandemic - have reportedly overtaken London in terms of night-time transactions.

But writing in The Independent, Ms Lamé defended her position.

“I was disappointed to read reports in other newspapers questioning the necessity of London having a night tsar, a job that enables me to support and supercharge the capital’s life at night, and one that I have held since 2016,” she wrote.

“Our capital’s world-renowned nightlife is integral to our economic and social life.”

She goes on to say: “There’s no denying that it has faced huge challenges in recent years, due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic, Brexit, the cost of living crisis, rising rents and business rates, and staffing shortages.

“I’ve been working closely with businesses, venues, boroughs and Londoners to support them throughout these challenges, and I’m delighted that London’s hospitality industry sales outpaced the rest of the UK last year.”

She tells how she has worked to boost the city’s night-time economy against a backdrop of the cost-of-living crisis, the pandemic, and anxieties surrounding the safety of clubbing particularly among young women, following a surge in drink-spiking.“During a difficult time for the night-time economy, I’ve helped hundreds of night-time venues keep their doors open – including the likes of Fabric, Ministry of Sound, Egg, G-A-Y and Fire, to name just a handful,” wrote the tsar.

She adds: “I was instrumental in supporting the plans to retain Printworks, an events venue in Rotherhithe that takes its name from the building’s former use, as a permanent cultural space”.

While G-A-Y bar remains open, its affiliated nightclub G-A-Y Late - a much-loved Soho fixture for years - announced in November it was to close indefinitely in December, to widespread dismay.

Printworks, the 6,000 capacity nightspot which opened in 2017 in the former Evening Standard printing works, closed earlier last year as part of a £3.5 billion redevelopment of the site. It is due to eventually reopen on the site - but not until 2026.

Ms Lamé was appointed London’s first night czar in 2016. She also works as a DJ on BBC Radio 6 Music at weekends.

The Spectator magazine reported last January that she had had her pay packet increased by around 40 per cent in the space of a year, to around £120,000. The mayor’s office explained the rise, which happened in two increments in the space of seven months, by saying Lamé has gone up two pay grades to £116,925 - where it remains.

Regarding Ms Lamé’s travels abroad, Peter Fortune, the Conservative London Assembly member for Bexley and Bromley, told the Sunday Times: “I’m not adverse to the mayor and his team travelling to other cities to promote us.

“But I want to see outcomes as a result of those trips. What’s happened as a result of Australia, of Bologna? Where’s the bang for the buck?”

City Hall on Sunday defended Ms Lame’s travel, which it said helped “learn from other cities, build partnerships and demonstrate how London is leading the world with our approach to supporting all aspects of life at night”.

The overseas trips are understood to be funded by donations, and not the taxpayer.

A City Hall spokesperson told the Sunday Times: “The Night Tsar’s work includes standing up for the 1.3 million Londoners who work evenings and nights to ensure better pay and conditions, protecting hundreds of venues and helping many new ones to open, and creating the groundbreaking Night Time Enterprise Zone programme to boost the capital’s high streets.

“Amy is helping to put women’s safety at the heart of more than 2,100 organisations, making licensing easier to navigate, and supporting boroughs to develop nighttime strategies to plan better for all aspects of life at night.”