Last Sunday, within the framework of an extraordinary meeting, District 7’s City Council decided about the future of the party district. According to the decision, midnight closing hours will not be introduced yet; however, a new system of criteria will be set with the purpose of controlling opening hours in the future.

As Hungarian news portal reports, the future of the party district has been a problematic issue for more than two years. Since 2017, the majority of residents have been fighting with the local council to decrease the damages caused by night clubs and even oblige them to close at midnight. The former mayor, Zsolt Vattamány, tried to resolve the question of midnight closing hours by a referendum, but the results were invalid. Let’s summarise what happened since then.

After this year’s municipal elections in October, the mayor’s chair has been occupied by Péter Niedermüller, while Dóra Garai, the representative of Livable Elizabeth City Facebook group, also became a member of the council. Garai’s civil community had been supporting the proposal of midnight closing time since 2013 and requested the introduction of the regulation by January 2020. This proposal was eventually voted down by the board.

On 25 November, another proposal dealt with the subject; however, this one was accepted by the board. It also urges the solution that supports midnight closing time, but the party district would not be immediately affected.

As a result, in the next few months, a technical committee will be set up involving representatives of the council (three of them from District 7’s city centre), the police, security services, civil organisations, and restaurant operators. An objective system of criteria will be set up with the purpose of controlling opening hours in the future.

Additionally, EUR 3,000 (~HUF 1 billion) financial support has been requested from the government to repair the damages caused by tourism and to improve the living conditions of residents.

Based on the proposal submitted by Niedermüller, further consultations are scheduled with the government to regulate Airbnb short-term apartment rentals.

Just like before, the issue generated serious debates between deputies and residents. Some locals have run out of patience, while others are happy that they have the opportunity to move out. However, the situation is untenable – Monday’s extraordinary meeting did not bring significant changes.

The next step will be realized on 28 February when the committee meets again to bring midnight closure into force from March-April to those catering and hospitality establishments which do not meet the new criteria.

The civil representative is afraid that the proceeding will end in a personal decision and residents will not get enough space to express their opinion. According to Dóra Garai, the issue would not have been discussed on Monday if she had not brought it up, and her statement was eventually taken off the agenda to bring forth the idea of a new system of criteria.

At the meeting, Péter Niedermüller highlighted that he intends to resolve the situation based on his promise; however, according to his Facebook post, he thinks that the “enclosure and prohibition of the party district is not the right solution; instead, a smart, consensus-based solution should be found.”

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