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We Love Hackney campaigners celebrate the postponement of what they see as anti-youth licensing laws in the borough

Dinerama in Shoreditch

From the calm of Canary Wharf to the bubbling shock of Shoreditch – that was my journey; Dinerama street food market was my destination.

There the exultant masses consumed pulled pork, steamed buns and Fuller’s Frontier craft beer to celebrate the success of We Love Hackney , a campaign to keep their borough vibrant in the face of conservative forces.

According to WLH, Hackney Council is at odds with the entrepreneurial, the hip and the young.

It wishes to impose licensing laws that would see venues across the borough shut at 11pm (midnight on Saturdays) as well as broader restrictions to strangle the hogweed of speakeasies and tatty dives.

Those businesses rose up, organised and collected signatures, shaking the council’s core belief that its “famous night-time economy” was a soft target for prudence and ire.

The council backed down and the current licensing regime has been re-adopted. Hence the celebration at Dinerama – and a pledge of continued vigilance.

An updated draft policy will be issued next year so “residents and businesses can join in an open discussion”.

Which is precisely what happened this time, of course, much to the council’s chagrin.

This dispute, and the current nonsense over the Night Tube, shows the capital is still unsure whether it wants to be a 24-hour world city or whether we all should be home in time for tea and Blue Peter.

A different type

Hackney Council decided against presenting this change of heart as a victory for the We Love Hackney campaigners.

According to its statement, it was not people power that secured the postponement but a familiar and intractable force – bureaucratic blundering.

“Unfortunately there was a minor error in the published consultation document,” admitted Cllr Emma Plouviez who used the slip to ice the policy.

She went on to say: “Balancing the needs of the night time economy with the rights of our residents to live in a peaceful and safe environment is one of the biggest challenges facing our borough.”

“Keyboard skills” is clearly another.

Pragmatic choices

At the same event, I found myself in conversation with a man who works for Newham Council. As I part-fund his salary through my council tax it seemed only fair that I should press him to pass judgment on my untutored view of his employer.

In the spirit of conviviality, I noted that, while a one-party state was decidedly unhealthy, the council draws great benefits from security of tenure.

It seems unashamed in its mission to take the riches of the Docklands and re-deploy them to social causes in the less fortunate north – a template that Tower Hamlets should adopt with similar zeal.

• More from Giles Broadbent at

I see Newham mayor Sir Robin Wales as an occasionally overbearing authoritarian, but also a charismatic pragmatist who has a “whatever works” approach to the afflictions of his parish.

A ready example comes in the form of London City Airport. It would be easy for a weak council to play to the gallery and take arms against the noisy neighbour.

Yet, a council that needs wealth generators and job creators is right to be more circumspect and approachable.

I was pleased to note that my broad-brush conclusions were not undone by insider knowledge.