Night czar: City Hall Tories blast Amy Lamé’s ‘lavish’ 40% pay rise

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The salary paid to Sadiq Khan’s “night czar”, Amy Lamé, has come under fire.

Conservatives at City Hall have criticised night czar Amy Lamé’s “lavish” and “wonderfully generous” 40% pay rise.

Lamé has received two pay bumps since September 2021, meaning her salary has risen from £83,169 a year pro-rata, to £116,925, as reported by the Spectator.

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She was appointed by mayor Sadiq Khan in 2016 to champion London’s nightlife scene and work to make the capital a true 24-hour city.

News of her pay rise was met with incredulity, and followed a petition in 2021 to remove her from her role. It claimed her response to the pandemic was “extremely disappointing”.

City Hall says the process was independent and that the night czar’s salary grade is now the same as the organisation’s chief digital officer.

Night czar Amy Lame with King Charles. Photo: GettyNight czar Amy Lame with King Charles. Photo: Getty
Night czar Amy Lame with King Charles. Photo: Getty | Getty Images

The capital’s nightlife industry is valued at £26.3 billion and employs around 700,000 people, according to the GLA Conserative group’s figures, and 58 venues in London shut during Covid-19.

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Speaking during a session scrutinising the mayor’s draft 2023-24 budget, Conservative assembly member Emma Best asked the mayor what his reasoning was to up Lamé’s pay.

She asked: “Do you think those in the night time industries will be happy to see that increase and recognise that as one of the bullets that’s going to help them during this troubling time for their economies?”

Sadiq Khan has been criticised for giving Amy Lame a 40% pay rise. Photo: GettySadiq Khan has been criticised for giving Amy Lame a 40% pay rise. Photo: Getty
Sadiq Khan has been criticised for giving Amy Lame a 40% pay rise. Photo: Getty | Getty Images

Khan’s chief of staff, David Bellamy, said her salary was reviewed by “independent processes” following a “normal restructure of the mayor’s office”.

He said the night czar’s “updated job description was accepted as an accurate reflection” of her work and that an “independent grading process” determined her level of pay.

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“I think the night time industries recognise the vital importance of the role and will be pleased to have the night czar in that role doing it,” Bellamy told the assembly.

Amy Lame’s role is to champion London’s nightlife. Photo: GettyAmy Lame’s role is to champion London’s nightlife. Photo: Getty
Amy Lame’s role is to champion London’s nightlife. Photo: Getty | Getty Images

Lamé’s work has included launching the women’s night safety charter; night time enterprise zones in Bromley, Lambeth and Greenwich; working with the Met to scrap discriminatory risk assessment requirements; and helping to stem the closures of music and LGBT+ venues.

Tony Devenish, Conservative AM, described Lamé’s salary as “wonderfully generous” and asked the mayor: “How many other GLA staff - when we’re all suffering in London with a cost of living crisis - whose base salary is £100,000 plus a year have had a double digit pay rise? And particularly has anyone beaten the night czar on 40%, please?

“There’s a lot of concern that the night czar seems to have been given a special situation. I’d like to know if anyone else has had the same favoured position under Mr Khan’s administration.”

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Referencing the row over the Tory chairman Nadhim Zahawi’s tax penalty paid to HMRC, Khan hit back: “I think I can say with some confidence nobody’s paid a fine to the taxman, not to the tune of £5m anyway.”

And Bellamy, who said he would write to the Cons group with a fuller answer, responded: “This year, we’re 25 days in, I would imagine none have.”

Commenting after the meeting, Emma Best told LondonWorld: “The night time industry in London is in crisis and needs targeted support from the mayor.

“This should be focused on grant funding, convening bodies around planning and licensing and support for night time jobs.

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“What the industry doesn’t need is a 40% pay rise for the night czar who is now paid almost £120,000. It’s a slap in the face of all the businesses struggling.”

Night czar Amy Lame with Camilla, Queen Consort. Photo: GettyNight czar Amy Lame with Camilla, Queen Consort. Photo: Getty
Night czar Amy Lame with Camilla, Queen Consort. Photo: Getty | Getty Images

Neil Garratt, GLA Cons economy spokesperson, previously said: “What has she achieved to justify Khan’s lavish patronage?

“In six years she has held just 25 of her much trumpeted night surgeries.

“While around her, venues closed, staff were laid off, and City Hall campaigned for even longer Covid shutdowns. Manchester’s equivalent is far more visible and is unpaid.

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“Instead of a blank cheque, this post needs a fresh start. Starting with whether we really need it at all."

City Hall contested the figure of 25 night surgeries, and said it was more than 50, in person and online, with more in 2022 than any previous year.

A spokesperson for the mayor said: “The night czar’s job description was independently reviewed to better reflect the responsibilities of the role, as part of a restructure of the mayor’s office following the 2021 election.

“The post was graded using the GLA’s usual independent process, from a grade 13 to 15.

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“The night czar is responsible for helping London to thrive between 6pm and 6am as part of the mayor’s work to build a safer and more prosperous London for everyone.

“This includes advising the mayor, deputy mayors and mayoral advisors on all areas of policy and planning which impact on London at night, championing London’s nightlife as it recovers from the impact of the pandemic and the 1.4m Londoners who work evenings and nights, standing-up for venues, working with partners across the capital to improve night time initiatives across the city, and helping to put women’s safety at the heart of night time organisations.”

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