New initiative to promote St Albans’ and Harpenden’s night-time economy

Ghostly picture of St Albans Abbey at night

Ghostly picture of St Albans Abbey at night - Credit: Archant

In a bid to boost the district’s night-time economy, cafes and shops could be be encouraged to open later into the evening.

Ghostly picture of St Albans Abbey at night

Ghostly picture of St Albans Abbey at night - Credit: Archant

Longer hours in St Albans and Harpenden is one of a number of measures recommended in a report following a survey of residents which showed they would like to see longer opening times on the high street, particularly for coffee shops.

The report is the culmination of a year-long investigation into how to improve the district’s night-time economy and looks likely to be spearheaded by extended opening hours at the cafe in the new museum and art gallery in the Town Hall, scheduled to open in early 2018.

That is planned to host community functions in the evening and have a site where it can advertise evening and late-night local events.

While longer opening hours at cafes and shops was a particularly popular proposal the report, which is still in the recommendation stage, also suggests street lighting should be kept on until 2am at the weekends rather than midnight for safety purposes, street rangers introduced to patrol the city centre and an examination of whether late-night bus services to rural locations could be improved.

Recommendations in the report from a specific night-time economy task and finish group were accepted by the district council’s community, environment and leisure scrutiny committee (CELSC). It now goes to cabinet for consideration and includes a recommendation that Cllr Beric Read, portfolio holder for community engagement and localism, should be given specific responsibility for improving the night-time economy.

Cllr Anthony Rowlands, CELSC chair and task and finish group member, said: “This is the culmination of an impressive year-long investigation into how to improve the local night-time economy.

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“It is the first time we have looked at this issue for around a decade during which the demand for night-time services in the area has soared and people’s social habits have changed.

“We have agreed on a package of proposals which our inquiries show the public will support and I hope the Council’s cabinet will accept our recommendation that we have a portfolio holder dedicated to the issue.”

He added: “In particular, we need to encourage cafes to stay open longer as that is what people want. It would also be good to see some shops open later, especially in the run-up to Christmas.”