The levy, which applies to almost all premises in Liverpool licensed to supply alcohol at any time between midnight and 6am, was introduced on 1 April 2017.
However, local chain the Pub Invest Group had hoped to overturn the levy by bringing a judicial review claim that questioned the robustness of the decision and changes to the implementation date, which were made after the consultation.
It complained about the quality of the local consultation, which had been conducted both electronically and on the street, and raised concerns that a lack of support for the levy from the council's Licensing and Gambling Sub-Committee has been overturned by the full council after councillors were 'whipped' to follow the party line. The claimant also objected to changes to the levy implementation date, which meant it would come into force later than stated in the consultation.
However, Philip Kolvin QC, from Cornerstone Barristers, who acted for Liverpool City Council, told The Morning Advertiser that the High Court had refused to give permission to bring the claim.
According to Kolvin, the judge said he thought the consultation was “adequate” and that consultation responses had been properly taken into account. He also said that the full council was “entitled to take a different view from a subordinate committee” and that a decision reached following a whip is lawful. The judge also rejected the challenge to the date of implementation, which, he said, "had aroused little comment during the consultation".
The British Beer & Pub Association and the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers had both called the council’s decision to bring in the levy “disappointing” when it was first announced in November 2016.
The row over the levy, along with other controversial topics such as business-rates reforms, will be discussed at the next MA500 meeting in Liverpool which is taking place on the 18 May 2017.