I am delighted to present this unique, one-of-a kind document outlining a vision to improve the night time experience for Wandsworth residents, workers, and visitors. This is the beginning of the dialogue.
The significance of this study cannot be overstated. This strategy, in particular advocates for the many people who work in or are affected by the night time economy and who are frequently overlooked in important decision making.
The night time experience is determined by who you are - what you look like, your gender, sexual orientation, mental and physical health, ethnic origin, previous experiences, and if you can afford a taxi home or to work.
For many, the night time is filled with fear, and those who feel the most alienated are frequently the ones who are least heard.
This strategy places a special focus on the groups that have the most difficulty getting what they need at night, such as low-income workers, young people, and women.
We want businesses and high streets to thrive, but we also want people to feel comfortable and involved so they can enjoy what our neighbourhoods and town centres have to offer after dark. To do so, we must reconsider the night, redesign how our neighbourhoods should look and feel, and what kind of uses and services are available after 6 p.m.
The Council recently signed up to the Women's Night Safety Charter and is conducting ongoing conversations with particularly vulnerable groups such as those living in more deprived areas of the borough and the LGBTQI+ community. This demonstrates our commitment to improving safety.
This paper aims to kick-start a new emphasis on the night time, making it more accessible to all, and ensuring that everyone who works, studies or enjoys the night feels safe and heard.
This Draft Night Time Strategy for Wandsworth sets out the Borough’s strategic vision for the evening and night time which will help shape, influence and link with wider strategies and policies across the Council. It provides guidance for the Council, partner organisations and businesses to ensure the night time economy in the borough is encouraged to grow, whilst ensuring it is sustainable, reflects the needs of local residents, businesses and workers and is inclusive to all.
The Strategy supports wider Council priorities to create a more just and fairer borough with its focus on improving the night time experience for all, taking into account the residents that often feel the negative impacts of the night time economy too. It recognises the importance of safe neighbourhoods at night as well as during the day, the foundation for a successful night time economy. Listening to the experience of night time workers and other participants has brought fresh insight into the preparation of this strategy. Providing a voice for those involved in the night time economy is an important principle for taking its recommendations forward.
The focus of the Strategy is not just on leisure, hospitality and the entertainment industries, but also night workers such as those in health care, warehouse logistics and deliveries, as well as people leaving their offices in the evening or late night. The night time economy is significant, but the Covid-19 Pandemic has brought to light the fragility of our night time industries as well as the safety of Londoners, especially women, low income, disabled, young and vulnerable people, moving around the city at night.
Following the tragic death of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa in 2021, a spotlight has been cast on the borough around women’s safety and the general safety of Londoners at night. Wandsworth is the safest inner London borough statistically, but with 52% of the borough’s population being women (the majority falling into the 25-39 age bracket); an increasing night time workforce of which women are an increasing part; and for our high streets and town centres to recover successfully following the Covid-19 Pandemic, it is critical that we plan for an inclusive and safe environment for all our residents, visitors and workers.
The purpose of this document is to celebrate the night and draw together practical recommendations for improving the night time to meet the needs of everyone. We know the night time economy can have negative impacts on residents too, and through this Strategy hope to balance the needs of all those who use the night. The Strategy promotes cross-departmental working internally within the Council, extensive consultation with businesses and the public, and engagement with external stakeholders such as the Metropolitan Police, Transport for London and the Greater London Authority (GLA).
Some of the recommendations in the Strategy will require funding, and where appropriate the Council will redirect existing resources or explore options for external or partnership funding. The Strategy provides a platform for developing future projects and an evidence base for funding applications.
The Night Time Strategy project is led by the High Streets and Local Growth Team in the Economic Development Office at Wandsworth Council. This Strategy is informed by comprehensive data collection, consultation with relevant stakeholders, inter-departmental working and recent public engagement, the Night Time, Our Time series of consultations.
Recent engagement that has informed this strategy:
Night Time, Our Time interactive map consultation (September – February 2023) (816 responses)
LGBTQI+ Forum Night Time Strategy Workshop
Deconstructed Discoball 5 day / 5 night interactive installation project (October 2022)
Sounds of the borough sound recording project (October 2022)
Night Time, Our Time online questionnaire (January - May 2022)(438 responses)
Night Time Stakeholder Panel (February 2022 – ongoing)
Face-to-face meetings with businesses on staff safety and recruitment (May – June 2022)
Attendance at various events and forums
Night walks with Councillors
Ongoing conversations with businesses and markets
Conversations with youth clubs and youth services