Legislation

Three cities mulling "punitive" late-night levies

By Oli Gross contact

- Last updated on GMT

Three cities mulling "punitive" late-night levies

Related tags: Late-night levy, Liverpool

The drive for late-night levies is gathering pace with three more UK councils mulling over their potential introduction — fuelling fears of financial burdens and uncertainty for operators.

Liverpool City Council has confirmed it plans to go ahead with a consultation, and East Riding of Yorkshire Council and Camden Council are both in early stages of discussions.

The late-night levy applies to licensed retailers selling alcohol at any time between midnight and 6am. Currently seven councils across England have implemented the power.

The Association for Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has consistently argued against the introduction of what it calls “punitive measures”.

Chief executive Kate Nicholls said a levy should only ever be considered when all other options have failed and a problem still exists.

ALMR urged councils to consider voluntary and partnership schemes such as Purple Flag and Best Bar None, which are “infinitely preferable”.

Nicholls said: “Introducing a levy not only places an additional financial burden on businesses, it has the effect of undermining much of the hard work they are already doing and creates uncertainty and instability.”

Consultations

The consultation by Liverpool City Council will run from late September until late November with the report to go before full council on 13 January 2016. If approved, the council will seek to implement the scheme by June.

East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s licensing committee will meet next month to discuss whether or not to go ahead with a consultation on a late-night levy, which would affect 650 venues.

Camden Council’s licensing panel will meet on 8 October to discuss a levy in the borough.

There is also a possibility that Lambeth Borough Council may look again at a levy, but City of York Council has ruled out a levy for now.

Extra cost 

The British Beer & Pub Association said it also strongly opposes levies, and will campaign against them when proposed.

Chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “Pubs struggling with high business rates, taxes and red tape don’t need this extra cost. It can damage the economy and undermines partnership schemes such as BIDs (business investment districts), Pubwatch and Best Bar None, which are effective.”

Recently Leeds and Bristol abandoned late-night levy plans.

“I hope Liverpool considers carefully why other cities did so,” Simmonds added.

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