Late-night levy: Pubs "ignored" by Government says Best Bar None chairman Philip Kolvin QC

By Adam Pescod

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Regulation, Public house

Night-time economy: venues in best-practice schemes may find it difficult to get a late-night levy reduction
Night-time economy: venues in best-practice schemes may find it difficult to get a late-night levy reduction
The Government has “ignored” the wishes of the pub industry by “excluding all best-practice schemes” from applying for a late-night levy reduction.

That is the damning assessment of Best Bar None and Purple Flag chairman Philip Kolvin QC, who is “very disappointed” that best-practice schemes will be required to “expel” members in order to be entitled to a 30% reduction from the levy.

This ultimately means that voluntary schemes such as Pubwatch will find it difficult to meet the requirements for a reduction.

The Late Night Levy (Expenses, Exemptions and Reductions) Regulations 2012 were presented before Parliament last week, and are set to come into force on 31 October.

It was thought that premises that are part of a best-practice scheme such as Best Bar None, Purple Flag or Pubwatch would be entitled to a levy reduction, ranging from 10% to 30%.

However, while this has now been confirmed as a flat 30%, the regulations state that the schemes must be established for “purposes that result in, or are likely to result in, the reduction or prevention of crime and disorder in connection with the supply of alcohol between midnight and 6am”.

In addition, schemes must also have a provision allowing them to revoke the membership of any premises that has not sufficiently helped reduce crime and disorder.

Kolvin said that this is not what best-practice schemes are established for, and claimed that the Government has effectively excluded many if not all of them from applying for a reduction.

“This doesn’t reflect well on the consultation — we appear to have been ignored,” said Kolvin. “They seem to be saying that best-practice schemes can escape from this regulation if they do a bit of regulating, which includes punishing people. Nobody in these schemes goes in wanting to punish their colleagues.

"We will of course work with our local schemes to help them to apply for reductions and negotiate the bureaucracy, but it grates because founding a scheme on punishment and not aspiration is not what Best Bar None is about."

National Pubwatch chairman Steve Baker also expressed his concerns about the measures, which he thinks could put too much control on best-practice schemes.

“The danger is that the police could put pressure on a member of a scheme to give up their membership,” said Baker.

“That concerns me because pubwatch has always been a voluntary activity.

“I would not want anything to infer that the police have some kind of control over a pubwatch scheme.”

Related topics: Licensing law

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