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What are the challenges for Nottingham’s night time economy?

Emma Houghton, account director at Cartwright Communications gives a quick overview of just some of the hot topics affecting Nottingham’s nightlife and Nottingham's night time economy.

At Cartwright we’re well-known for our expertise in food, drink, retail and leisure sectors and for launching many of the latest venues, restaurants and bars to open in Nottingham.

Recently we were invited to attend the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) industry dinner to discuss the latest challenges faced by the night time industry.

In attendance were the police, Nottingham venue managers, major drinks distributors, licensing specialists and solicitors, as well as representatives from the NTIA.

What is the NTIA? 

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) is a trade association and membership organisation that promotes the unique contribution of the night time industry in the UK and internationally.

It acts as the voice for the sector and works to increase awareness and understanding of its contribution and benefits.

It seeks to influence the decisions of policymakers and ensure that the night time economy continues to flourish, supporting regeneration, creating jobs and enhancing the UK’s international reputation.

What were some of the key issues discussed?

1) PPL Levy increase

PPL is the UK’s music licensing company for over 100,000 performers and recording rights holders, licensing the use of recorded music in the UK since 1934.

PPL received serious backlash from the industry when it announced a 5% increase to the fee as many increases to tariffs would have a knock-on effect – in some cases cause venues to close.

CEO of NTIA, Michael Kill said: “Following several investigative meetings with PPL in collaboration with other key stakeholders, the following issues were unearthed:

“Firstly, music played publicly was untracked. Tracking relies on a surrogacy method built from radio playlists and a weak spread of venues, which gave a very limited view on playlists that are used to charge venues.

“Secondly, PPL do not represent all the music being played within each venue. In actual fact, the more acute the music genre, the less music represented by PPL.

“The culmination of these two factors mean that the money collected by PPL from SFE tariff members amounts to an over collection, and although there is technology available to conduct tracking correctly and accurately, PPL refuses to fund it.

“So, the key issue here is that the increased tariff will financially cripple venues, leading to many closures and therefore less places for artists to perform.

“The system is stifling our young artists and financially suffocating our venues. The system is broken and needs to be addressed.”

2) Security resources

For some time now, the night time industry has made complaints of depleting numbers in licenced door staff availability.

On paper, statistics for the security sector look good. However, the proportion of licences does not accurately reflect the numbers required on the ground.

“We asked the Security Industry Authority (SIA) to run a usage survey to find out what each applicant was going to use their badge for,” said Michael.

“The feedback resulted in 58% of door supervisor badges being used for office and shop security work.

“The reason for this was that office and shop security created regular, full time hours, alongside competitive rates of pay and lower risk factors.

“Door security within the night time economy however often offers limited hours and basic pay rates, within a high-risk, high-stress environment. Which, unsurprisingly is less appealing to badge holders.

“Once again, the implications of resource shortage could drive resource prices up and create a very difficult landscape for the night time economy for the future adding to the financial burden.

“We are now working with key stakeholders, SIA and representatives from the House of Lords to create a strategy for change.”

3) Rent Reviews

Under the current Landlord and Tenant Act, 1954 agreement there are no controls in place to limit the length of time by which rent reviews have to be completed.

Even if a lease does stipulate an agreed review date, landlords can sometimes spend up to 12 months reviewing a raise.

“Many of our members have asked us to work alongside them with our panel of experts to not only secure leases with key clauses that help with future proofing, but also to negotiating current leases and clauses, protecting active leases,” said Michael.

How do we improve Nottingham’s night time economy?

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer.

The general consensus is that in order to build a better night time economy we need to diversify the offering wherever possible and ensure that the city is accessible and entertaining for everyone. But creating catch-all night-time utopia is no small task.

First, we need to have the bricks and mortar in the place through infrastructure and redevelopment, then we need to attract the right businesses to city centre that can offer a wide range of entertainment options suitable for different ages, demographics, group sizes and interests. We need to ensure that the areas are safe, which relies on security and policing. We need to think about footfall, transport and parking and we need to think about cost to the providers in terms of licensing and produce they offer… and that’s just for starters.

This 1000-piece puzzle must be put together by a host of different organisations, individuals and bodies at a local and national level. What makes its more complicated is that so many of these organisations have conflicting demands and agendas, from the council, to the venue operators to the police.

So how do you solve a problem like Nottingham’s night time economy? Keep listening, keep compromising and keep working together.

By Emma Houghton

Having worked both in house and agency-side, Emma has delivered a range of national and regional campaigns across multiple sectors, from home interiors, construction and the arts, to food and children’s services. She has experience in devising and delivering PR and social media strategy as well as copywriting for SEO.

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