Council makes ‘exceptional’ ruling on future of Soho’s G-A-Y Late venue after closure fears

Westminster Council has ruled that an iconic LGBT venue will be allowed to extend its opening hours to avoid closing.

G-A-Y Late, on the edge of Soho, has been given special permission by licensing bosses to remain open until 4am.

However another of its venues, G-A-Y Bar on Old Compton Street, has had its licensed opening hours cut by an hour as part of the deal.

The decision comes following pressure from LGBT activists, local councillors and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who called on the local authority to prevent another LGBT venue closing.

G-A-Y in Soho in central London.

G-A-Y Bar, Soho (Photo BY JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

The future of the venue, located next to a new Crossrail station, had been put in jeopardy after it was handed huge rent rises.

Jeremy Joseph, whose G-A-Y business has been running for more than two decades, said G-A-Y Late was ordered to pay £400,000 a year more in rent.

Councillor Angela Harvey, Chairman of Westminster Council Licensing Committee, told PinkNews: “Preserving the unique mix of Westminster’s night-time economy is a key priority of the council, and we have worked closely with local businesses and residents to balance their needs within our licensing policy.

“The City of Westminster has over 3516 licensed premises of which 1096 are located within the West End.

“Councillors felt the amended application demonstrated that this case was exceptional and would not cause any significant disturbances to residents.

“The application is subject to several key conditions to mitigate the cumulative impact of the later hours; Including the reduction of operating hours by one hour of G-A-Y on Old Compton Street, and patrols of Goslett Yard by staff to ensure patrons disperse after closing time.”

London Pride on Regent's Street, 2017

London Pride on Regent’s Street, 2017 (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

However the landlords of the G-A-Y Late venue could still block the decision.

Mr Joseph wrote on Facebook: “When granting the licence the council imposed a condition for all licensable activity at G-A-Y Late to only be valid while the venue is run as an LGBT venue which obviously was a condition we agree with to protect the LGBT future of a Soho venue.

“However, we need our freehold landlords to approve this condition, as there is a clause in our lease which requires us to ‘maintain the licence necessary for keeping open the Premises so far as necessary for the Permitted User (Class A3 and D2)’ and at the end of the lease ‘to obtain a transfer of the current licences to the Landlord or its nominee’.

“If the licence condition is applied, then we have been advised that our landlords could argue that we are in breach of our obligations under the lease so we are asking for their permission to change our licence to LGBT only, fingers crossed & will update you once Redefined Charing Cross Limited have replied.”

The club is one of the best known LGBT venues in London and is the sister venue to G-A-Y Heaven, which has hosted performances from stars including Adele, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus and Kylie Minogue.

The proposal was backed by West End ward councillors Jonathan Glanz and Paul Church, who is the council’s lead member for LGBT+ issues, as well as human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

Speaking before the decision, Mr Joseph said he would not allow the venue to close because he was determined to “protect the jobs of the people loyal to G-A-Y”.

Explaining his application, he said: “The plight of G-A-Y Late is an example of how easy it is to lose a successful business, but to be clear, I won’t let it close and I will protect the jobs of the people loyal to G-A-Y.

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