Boss of G-A-Y Late reveals clubs’ battle to survive amid rent and rate rises
Jeremy Joseph says no one is protecting businesses from rising costs
04 August, 2017 — By Alina Polianskaya
Club boss Jeremy Joseph is seeking an extension G-A-Y Late’s license
A FAMOUS Soho LGBT venue has appealed to the council to let them stay open an extra hour – as they revealed they were battling for survival amid rising rent and rates.
The boss of G-A-Y Late, Jeremy Joseph, said the club’s struggle showed “how easy it is to lose a successful business” but vowed he would not let the club in Goslett Yard close.
“It is not just about G-A-Y,” he told Westminster Extra. “Small businesses are going under, they are suffering and there is no one to protect them. We are getting all these increases and businesses need to find ways to get that income to cover what we have to pay. It is a vicious circle.”
Mr Joseph said “one extra drink per person at capacity every night all year would cover” the rising rates and “dramatic increase in rent”.
He has applied for their licence to be extended to 4am, which he said was in line with the Mayor of London’s ambition to create a 24-hour city. “We are saying to Westminster Council, we know this is against council policy, but you do have the right to make exceptions and that is what we are asking for,” Mr Joseph said.
“It is very simple, we want stay open. G-A-Y is a company that employs nearly 200 people. We have a very loyal customer base. We are an LGBT venue, we are there to provide a safe space to LGBT people. It is a very successful venue I am very proud of it, it is busy, there are always queues,” he said.
“There has been a huge loss of LGBT venues and that is not good because they provide a safe environment. But also, to lose venues like The Black Cap, [in neighbouring Camden] that is part of our heritage and LGBT history. It is venues that got us the way we are today.”
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell told Westminster Extra: “I’m very concerned that the rent and rate hikes could force G-A-Y Late and many other small Soho venues out of business.
“This would be a big blow to the LGBT community. Gay bars and clubs all over London are being priced out by similar huge, unjustified rent and rate rises. I hope that Westminster will agree to extend G-A-Y Late’s licence by one hour to 4am. The additional bar purchases during this extra hour would help cover its increased rent and save it from possible closure.”
Cllr Antonia Cox, cabinet member for public protection and licensing, said: “Preserving the unique culture and heritage of Westminster’s diverse evening and night-time economy is a key priority of the council, and our policies aim to provide a balance between the interests of businesses and residents.”
The application would be considered on its merits, she added.