The council intends to run the ‘Best Bar None-style’ best-practice scheme in conjunction with the police and members of the proposed LNL board, a council spokesman explained.
The aim was to have the scheme up and running by 1 November, the date that the LNL is set to come into force.
The council’s plan, however, received a lukewarm response from the pub trade. Licensed trade solicitor John Gaunt believed operators, having just been hit by a levy, were not going to feel enthusiastic about co-operating in a best-practice scheme.
Gaunt said: “Call me cynical, but there’s an argument that the adoption of a levy will discourage participation in a best-practice scheme. Licensed premises will feel that they are effectively paying twice.”
Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers strategic affairs director Kate Nicholls welcomed the council’s “belated” recognition that it is better to work in partnership with the trade to address identified problems.
But Nicholls added: “More enlightened local authorities are trialling such schemes first and Newcastle may have found a more receptive audience if it had not already made its mind up to penalise responsible operators.”
The current development comes after consultation responses, made available to the public last week, revealed a number of pub operators to be highly critical of the late-night levy proposals.
Stonegate Pub Company argued that there was “no certainty” that the monies raised from a levy would be used to address specific problems in their area. It stated: “A levy may raise revenue to clean up any problems, but it will do nothing to deliver better management standards and responsible retail practice, which may prevent them occurring in the first place.”
The submission from Punch Taverns raised concerns that the levy funds will not result in additional policing during the LNL period, but rather “will be used to reduce funding gaps, which the police and the authority are subjected to currently and/or in the future”.
Visit the council website for a full list of the responses.