If Sadiq Couldn't Save Fabric, What Chance Has London's Night Mayor Got?
It sounded like the best job in the world. Night czar of London. The night mayor. Champion of the night-time economy. A job title to be embossed on business cards of the weightiest stock. Who wouldn't want such a title?
And then: Fabric. It's not hard to imagine hundreds of previously enthusiastic candidates now hastily scrambling to withdraw their applications. Islington Council's decision to shut down a globally renowned nightclub, one which employed 250 people and acted as a cornerstone for the UK's electronic music industry, defies any logic or reason. Who in their right mind would take a job defending London's nightlife when it is now so clear that the odds are heavily stacked against success?
In the wake of the decision, Khan tweeted: "Fabric is an iconic and essential part of London's cultural landscape – I'm disappointed an agreement couldn't be reached to keep it open." From Fabric's perspective, an agreement was presumably made difficult by the Met's dogged determination to shut the club down. Some insight into the force's mentality is offered by the codename adopted for its investigation of the club: Operation Lenor. Yes, like the fabric softener, a gag that presumably had everyone in absolute stitches down at New Scotland Yard.
Unlike planning decisions, the London mayor has no power of veto over licensing. In the wake of the Fabric verdict, Khan reiterated his helplessness on Twitter: "The decision to revoke Fabric's licence was made by the licensing committee," he said. "I had no power to intervene nor can I overturn it." He went on: "I'm in the process of appointing a Night Czar to ensure London thrives as a 24-hour city, in a way that is safe & enjoyable for all." It suggested that the role will help address the problems that led to Fabric's closure. But if the actual mayor was unable to save the club, what chance will there be for his night czar?
When the news first broke that Fabric was in danger, Twitter was flooded with messages calling on Sadiq Khan to step in. It seemed fair to imagine that the London mayor might have some sway over such a critical decision. Amazingly, Khan appeared able to do nothing at all. In the days leading up to the licensing hearing, he said he wanted Fabric to remain open but stressed that its future was up to Islington Council. Responding to a petition to save the club, now signed by more than 150,000 people, he called for a "common sense solution". One was not forthcoming.
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