London’s “Night Czar” Amy Lamé has brushed off calls to quit after industry figures criticised her response to the coronavirus crisis.
More than 800 people have signed a petition accusing Lamé of not “understanding the far-reaching implications of the lockdown”, and for failing to be a “vocal, visible and powerful” advocate for the night-time economy.
They are calling on Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to remove her from her £83,169 post, either by replacing her or abolishing the role altogether.
The comedian and radio presenter has faced regular criticism since she was appointed as the capital’s first Night Czar in 2016, with some industry figures accusing her of inaction in the face of widespread venue closures.
In an interview with the Observer, Lamé said the latest hostility was “unpleasant” but added: “People will have their opinions, but I will be judged by the work that I do.
“Different people have different ideas of [how to do] it, but I’ve got 25 years-plus experience in running my own business, my own nightclub. My background is in advocating for venues: I helped save what is perhaps the most iconic LGBTQ+ venue in the country.”
In 2018 Lamé helped secure the future of the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, where she also presented the club night Duckie.
Joe Haycocks, who created the petition, wrote: “Amy’s response to Covid-19 has been extremely disappointing, and has not inspired any confidence in why she receives a salary of £83,169.
“There has been very little press or media coverage featuring her, at a time that our Industry really needs vocal, visible and powerful leaders.
“Due to the lack of media attention and voice, it’s hard to see that she really understands the far-reaching implications of the lockdown in the wider music and arts scene surrounding nightlife; from festival promoters, agents, artists to the whole infrastructure supply chain.”
Mr Haycocks said that the “petition is for the role to be abolished, or for Amy to be replaced with someone that will take a far more active role as a defender and supporter for nightlife”.
However, in a later comment he wrote: “I have had a very positive phone call with Amy just now, who, as I had no doubt about is definitely passionate about London’s nightlife – and who is keen to keep this conversation moving forward in order to help her to help us.”
Lamé said: “All I can do is listen. Like I did with the guy who started the petition: I called him up and said: ‘Let’s talk’. I have a kind ear and an open-door policy. If we can help, we will. If we can’t we will signpost you towards where to access that help.”