Chelmsford could be next to approve late-night levy

By Ellie Bothwell contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Late-night levy, Evidence, Public house

Police said the night-time economy is having a 'direct impact' on their resources
Police said the night-time economy is having a 'direct impact' on their resources
Late-night pubs and bars in Chelmsford may have to begin paying a levy from November, after the council’s licensing and regulatory committee recommended introducing the fee.

The recommendation was made at a committee hearing yesterday evening, but will have to be approved by full Council on 16 July.

The committee has called for the fee to be implemented on 1 November 2014 for premises that sell alcohol between 1am and 6am. Exemptions proposed include premises with overnight accommodation, theatres, cinemas and premises that are only licensed during those hours on New Year’s Eve.

Chelmsford City Council said 60% of the 33 responses to its public questionnaire on a late-night levy were in favour of the proposals. However, members of the trade have claimed there were more objections from those who submitted a written response, but did not fill in the questionnaire.

A consultation on a levy was launched earlier this year after police stated that a rise in the number of incidents on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday mornings were directly related to the three busiest nights in the city-centre. It said this means the night-time economy is having a “direct impact” on police resources and community safety initiatives.

'Insufficient evidence'

However, Spirit Pub Company secretary Ian Powell, who objected to the levy, said there is “insufficient evidence” to prove a levy is an “appropriate response”.

In his response to the consultation, he said: “The major flaw in the idea of the levy is the assumption that the venues which trade latest are a relatively bigger contributor to alcohol related harm; that may be a coincidence of timing, not necessarily a relationship of cause and effect.

“They may well be the last point of contact between consumers and retailers of alcohol but that does not make them responsible for patterns of consumption in the immediately prior period, where alcohol may have been purchased at lower cost in the off-trade and consumed on private premises, or even for example bought in the on-trade but outside the licensing authority area.”

Asda said it would rather the council introduced an early morning restriction order, as it would be “a fairer and more effective method” for managing the late-night economy and reducing alcohol misuse.

Related topics: Licensing law, Health & safety

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