Tim Westwood’s 10-Point Plan To Save London’s Nightlife

While Mayor of London Sadiq Khan finalises his search for London’s new Night Czar, NME’s candidate of choice DJ Tim Westwood gives his 10-point plan on saving London’s nightlife.

1. Make Westwood the Night Czar

“Stop putting London to sleep at night. That would be my slogan. I’m being serious. Clubs are in my blood, it’s what I do. If I’m not partying in a club I’m working in a club.”

2. Change institutionalised attitudes

“There’s got to be a new working attitude from police and council licensing towards London’s nightclubs and that is to recognise the contribution they make to London as the coolest city in the world, the contribution they make to the night-time economy, and to young people’s lives.”

3. Protect clubs as essential public services

“Clubs should be protected as essential public services. I think if there’s a problem with a club, a high-risk problem, the police and council should work on solving that problem as opposed to shutting down that club. Football used to have hooliganism but they didn’t stop football, they solved the problem. So that’s what it should be: if you see it as an essential public service, then if there is a problem the solution isn’t shutting it down, the solution is dealing with that problem.”

4. Allow urban nights in the West End

Fabric has highlighted the death of London nightlife but this is something that’s been happening historically to urban nights, period. As part of my 10-point plan I’d allow urban nights back in the West End. And I’d allow nights in general in the city of London and the O2, where restaurants and bars would also operate as nightclubs. Because when the urban nights got outlawed in the West End, the crowd went over to the City of London where these bars and restaurants would become clubs at night. They were all shut down. The O2 used to be a high-street strip with 10 clubs you used to go to, and now it’s a ghost town.

5. Bring back clubs to Leicester Square

“I’d bring back nightclubs to Leicester Square instead of casinos and lap-dance places. When I was a kid there used to be 10 clubs in Leicester Square alone, it was our equivalent of a high street like Broad Street in Birmingham. That high street where you can go and there are bars and clubs and you can take your pick where you go. When I was coming up, there was a dozen clubs there – Gas Club, Capital Club, CC Club, there were so many places and they’ve all been shut and replaced with casinos and lap-dance spots.”

6. Prevent gentrification from ruining club culture

“In areas outside of central London, if you move there, you shouldn’t have the residential rights to shut down clubs when the area becomes gentrified. Hackney’s whole renaissance was by the nightlife, so suddenly Hackney became this incredibly cool, creative place with lots of young people going there. Then people who moved there 15 years later want all the clubs shut down. That’s like me moving to Heathrow or Gatwick and saying ‘Look, I live here now, I want this airport shut down’. If an area’s got clubs, and you move into that area, you should accept that those clubs have a right to coexist and not use your residential rights to get those clubs shut down. I could probably buy a house cheaply next to a club and then when the club gets shut down my house is worth more money. It ain’t fair.”

7. Recognise the importance of clubbing to young people

“Not only is it an opportunity to celebrate life, but also to mix with people from different areas. A lot of young people now have no reason to come off their corner where they hang. That makes it all territorial, a postcode. Whereas when I was a kid – I’m from west London – I’d got to a party in Harrow Road, Uxbridge Road, Canning Town, West End, these popping nights in all these places. And I’d see people in east London, everyone would be cool. Then those east Londoners would come over to Uxbridge, Hammersmith, Streatham, Brixton. Everyone was just cool. If I’m just standing on the street corner cos I’ve got nowhere to go at night, I’m gonna be territorial. I think clubbing helps break all of that stuff down. You’ve got to understand the importance to young people of what these clubs are.”

Football used to have hooliganism but they didn’t stop football, they solved the problem

8. Encourage weekday clubbing

“When I was coming up there were clubs on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. It wasn’t just Friday, Saturday. I’d go out every night of the week. Wagg was popping on a Monday. Moonlighting was popping on a Thursday. Barracuda’s was popping on a Tuesday… You could follow the music and go out every night. You can’t deny that rite of passage to young people, man. I know people who’ve come from Birmingham, which is a popping nightlife, to London thinking that’s the next move, and who have transferred back to Birmingham because the nightlife here is so appalling. Even on Friday and Saturday the night tube is full of people just going to clean offices. It’s empty because there’s no clubs popping. There’s not an all-night economy. They’ve devastated the economy. We’ve gotta stop shutting the venues down. That’s no way to deal with it.”

9. CCTV and ID scanning in clubs

“ID scanning should be taken over by the police. You go to these clubs and they scan your driving license so they’ve got your name, your date of birth and your home address. It’s like, ‘who are these private companies with that information?’ They’ve got a photographic copy of your license, and that’s a whole data protection issue that hasn’t really been addressed. Everyone going in the club should be under CCTV and have a photograph taken. If you’re up to no good we don’t want you in the club. If you go in there like you and me – to party and celebrate, we’re not going there to sell drugs or kill somebody – the ID thing is perfect. But I don’t think it should be in private hands. I don’t think people should have your data like that. My thing is, I’m in the urban world, and the urban world has suffered the most with nights getting shut down, being on the 696 banned list, being outlawed from the West End, being outlawed from so many clubs – but there’s no drugs in my world. In the 30 years I’ve DJed, there’s never been a death from drugs in the club.”

10. Police presence outside clubs

“Maybe some of the taxes the clubs pay should go towards a police presence at certain clubs. If there’s police outside a club, no one’s gonna carry on mad. If this is a high-risk night, we have a police presence that is paid for with duty the clubs pay. Obviously it’s all a cost issue, but a police presence would also help if the night was perceived as high-risk. Along with the CCTV and ID scanning, you’d be mad to cause any trouble, you’d go to jail.”