Concerns have been raised as the council consults with residents and businesses, in partnership with Hackney Police, about bringing in a levy for premises serving alcohol between midnight and 6am. The revenue generated will help fund the cost of community safety and policing.
The council said: “We want to help support and sustain the borough's nightlife – which has made a valuable contribution to wider cultural and economic growth – however, it has also had an impact on public services, with increased levels of antisocial behaviour, crime, noise nuisance and litter.”
However, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers has warned that Hackney Borough Council’s decision to consult on a late-night levy could “stifle investment and have a detrimental effect on local businesses”.
ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The introduction of a late-night levy would be a retrograde step for the council and local businesses will suffer as a result.
“Pubs, restaurants and nightclubs in Hackney already make a substantial contribution in the form of taxes and business rates – which, for most local operators, are increasing substantially – and an additional cost burden will only undermine their ability to invest and employ in the area.
“The borough’s pubs, bars and nightclubs are an asset to the community. They attract customers, bring money to the area and contribute to the unique character of this part of London.”
The ALMR has consistently opposed the introduction of late-night levies and has worked with councils to encourage partnership schemes and voluntary measures as an alternative to taxes.
The levy is expected to raise around £362,000 per year, which would go towards the cost of managing the late-night economy, including a contribution towards the £1.4m cost of policing and community safety.
The levy would be set at a national level by the Government and be based on each premises's rateable value. In Hackney, this would vary from £299 to £1,259 per year.
The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Brigid Simmonds has also expressed disappointment at a decision to consult on implementing a late-night levy in the borough.
“It is very disappointing to see a vibrant central London borough like Hackney seek to impose this new tax on local businesses, many of which are already reeling from rocketing business rates in the capital. An extra new tax would only deter investment further,” she said.
“It is also a real disincentive for local businesses to work constructively with the council on improving the borough – it undermines partnership schemes between pubs, councils and the police, which can produce very positive results.
“Other councils in big cities, such as Bristol and Leeds have stepped back from a levy and, only weeks ago, Cheltenham became the first council to abolish its levy completely because it didn’t raise the money expected.”
She said that Hackney’s consultation is “a move in the wrong direction”.
“We will be making all these points very clearly to the council, and I hope it reconsiders these plans.”
Around 40 businesses already take part in a voluntary scheme in the borough, according to the council, raising around £56,000 per year.
The voluntary levy has helped to fund additional patrols by community safety wardens on Friday and Saturday nights in Dalston and Shoreditch, both in east London.
The consultation will close on 7 May.