At a full Council meeting yesterday, councillors voted in favour of introducing the tax for pubs and bars.
The levy will be implemented from 1 April 2014 for licensed premises operating between midnight and 6am. In Cheltenham, approximately 218 licensed premises sell or supply alcohol at these times.
The amount of the fee will depend on the rateable value of the affected premises, and range from £299 to £4,400 annually. It will provide potential revenue of £199,000 for the council and police to fund initiatives that tackle alcohol related crime and disorder within the borough.
The decision follows a 12 week consultation that took place from June to August, in which 47 people responded, 36 of which were members of the trade and trade associations including JD Wetherspoon, Punch Taverns, Marston’s, Greene King, the British Beer and Pub Association and the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers. The representations showed that 40% of respondents supported the tax, while 45% opposed.
Criticisms against the levy included that the levy would only penalise late night premises and not supermarkets, licensed premises already pay high business rates and the additional financial burden could have an adverse effect on the town’s attractiveness as a place to live, visit and invest.
Other respondents said the levy is too indiscriminate and inflexible because it makes no distinction between good and bad premises and the fees are “unfair” because they are based on the rateable value of a premises, not its capacity.
Councillor Peter Jeffries, cabinet member for housing, safety and communities, said: “Cheltenham has a vibrant night-time economy that far exceeds other towns of similar sizes. The town offers a rich choice of entertainment and facilities which makes it a destination that attracts high numbers of visitors, with some travelling considerable distances to enjoy what the late night economy has to offer. The town also hosts a number of internationally renowned festivals throughout the year.
“Although the vast majority of people visiting the town do so safely and responsibly, an active night-time economy nonetheless demands additional resource and cost for the council, police and other partners to deal with associated crime, disorder and other anti-social behaviour.
“Cheltenham Borough Council has set out a priority to strengthen communities by making those communities feel safe and ensuring they are safe. As such, the council has agreed to make a proposal to adopt a late night levy in Cheltenham.”