Council rejects plan to impose late-night levy on bars and clubs

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The licensed trade has welcomed a decision by Kingston Council in south London to reject imposing a late-night levy on bars and clubs.

Its licensing committee voted against a proposal to impose a fee of £299 to £4,440 per year on premises that sold alcohol between midnight and 6am across the borough which covers Kingston upon Thames, New Malden, Chessington and Surbiton. Venues include The Deltic Group’s Pryzm in Kingston (pictured).

The late-night levy was introduced through the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 as a mechanism for councils to raise funds towards the cost of late-night policing. The report from the House of Lords inquiry into the Licensing Act 2003 in April this year recommended the levy be abolished or amended.

Kate Nicholls, CEO of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, said: “Kingston Council has acted with pragmatism and common sense by dismissing a possible late-night levy in the area.

“It is a measure that would have only increased burdens on hard-pressed businesses and led to further closures without having an appreciable effect on any perceived areas of alcohol-related disorder.

“Other councils considering the measure would do well to follow Kingston’s example and avoid introducing a discredited measure that harms businesses.”

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, also welcomed the council’s decision not to go ahead with consultation on a late-night levy, which followed a previous rejection of a scheme in 2013.

She said: “This is the second time this approach has been rejected by the council, which has recognised that with fewer licensed venues, there would be even less potential revenue from a levy, which acts as an additional, unwelcome tax on vital local businesses.

“Pubs in London, in particular, are struggling with sky-high increases in business rates, and high duty on beer.

“Further developing a partnership approach, with the police, local authorities and business, working closely together to tackle any issues in the local night-time economy, is definitely the best way forward.”

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