City could get ‘night mayor’

Belfast council is looking at appointing a ‘night mayor’ to oversee the city’s nightlife and night-time economy despite objections from the DUP.

Monday, 18th October 2021, 7:53 am
People socialise in the Cathedral Quarter of Belfast, home to a number of pubs and restaurants

At a recent meeting of its city growth and regeneration committee, councillors agreed to a report looking at different aspects of night life in the city.

There was disagreement however, with the DUP indicating they would oppose the role.

The motion, from councillor Seamas deFaoite, urged the establishment of an overseer to Belfast’s nightlife who would “co-ordinate the work of the council and relevant partners in developing and promoting the city’s nightlife and night-time economy, following a round-table discussion”.

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The round-table discussion, if agreed, would be dedicated towards the future of the city between 6pm and 6am, and would involve councillors, Stormont ministers, trade unions, transport providers, artists, event organisers and venue owners.

It would also involve student unions, the Belfast City Youth Council, and non-profit organisations including Reclaim the Night, the Rainbow Project, Women’s Aid and the SOS Bus.

The motion states: “The establishment of a vibrant, diverse and sustainable nightlife between 6pm and 6am will encourage city centre living and create a vibrant, well-connected environment for people to enjoy.”

The proposal also calls for “a nightlife for the city which is inclusive of young people, women, LGBT+ people and ethnic minorities”.

However, DUP councillor John Hussey said: “A nightlife to 6am is not going to happen – we need to be realistic about that.

“With the liquor licensing changes that came in, nowhere will provide entertainment either after 2am in most cases, or 3am at the very latest. So without a critical mass in licensed premises, no one else is going to get involved.”

He asked for a feasibility report on the round-table discussion, and made a proposal to leave out the night mayor part of the motion. He said: “The night mayor stuff was voted on before, there wasn’t any interest from any stakeholders, so it didn’t go ahead.”

The DUP proposal failed with five elected members in support, and 13 against.

Cities across the world that have appointed a nightlife co-ordinator include Dublin, London, Amsterdam and New York.