Members of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) have voted for the organisation to launch campaigns calling for the abolition of both the late-night levy and unfair pricing by publicans.
The move comes following the passing of two motions at CAMRA’s annual general meeting last weekend.
The late-night levy (LNL) motion notes that a growing number of local authorities are introducing the fee and calls for CAMRA to provide resources and data to its branches that can be used in discussions with local officials.
A LNL can be imposed on pubs and bars that operate after midnight by local authorities. It has so far been introduced by seven councils.
The fee charged depends on the rateable value of the affected premises, and ranges from £299 and £4,400 per year.
CAMRA members also passed a motion for the organisation to launch a national campaign against the practice of pubs charging consumers more for a half pint than the proportional cost of a half of a pint. The motion called for CAMRA to attempt to bring in legislation to stop the practice, which is currently legal.
CAMRA member Peter Alexander, who tabled the motion, said: “Nobody really objects to the odd penny or two margin being applied, but there are outrageous examples of 50p (or more) supplements being charged and that is the real target of this motion.”
The motions now need to be ratified by CAMRA’s National Executive to be formally adopted as policy.
A spokesman for CAMRA said: “LNLs can punish well-run community pubs, which do not contribute to anti-social behaviour but are forced to pay to police noise and disorder caused by late-night bars and nightclubs.
“CAMRA’s National Executive will consider motions passed at conference and put a strategy in place to help local CAMRA branches get more information about late-night levies in their areas and campaign effectively for well-run pubs to be treated fairly, rather than penalised by this blanket measure.”
Regarding the price of a half pint, he added: “Members debating the motion did appreciate that the cost to licensees of serving a half pint is not necessarily half that of serving a pint, but called on pubs to ensure the cost of half a pint was fair and proportional and to ensure price lists, including half-pint prices, were easily available for customers.”
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive at the British Beer & Pub Association, welcomed the LNL motion but said that publicans must be able to decide their own drinks prices.
“Half pints can be more than half the price of a pint for a very good reason,” she said. “The pub experience involves so much more than the size of your drink, and that is something we should all be celebrating. I think most consumers would appreciate that.”
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, said she would like to see national guidance on LNLs amended so that local authorities are required to consider all other alternatives before resorting to the measure.