Industry bodies submit ideas to London’s mayor to help bars and clubs

Ministry of Sound

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has been urged to adopt measures to protect and support London’s bars and clubs as part of his consultation on Culture and the Night Time Economy.

The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) have submitted recommendations on behalf of the hospitality industry aimed at supporting the city’s diverse late-night businesses.

The ALMR’s submission highlighted the importance of London’s night-time economy and made a number of recommendations, including:

  • The “agent of change” principle should become the norm in planning decisions, putting the onus on residential developments to secure new residents against noise disturbance from existing businesses to avoid the risk of venues losing their licences when new homes are built nearby
  • Late Night Levies and Early Morning Restriction Orders should not be introduced in London as they damage the night-time economy
  • London’s boroughs and the Mayor of London should use their powers to promote economic growth, employment and social well-being provided through the sector.

ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The consultation shows that the Mayor’s Office understands and appreciates the fantastic contribution being made by businesses in the night time economy.

“This is a great opportunity to highlight the economic and social contributions being made by innovative and exciting companies and push for further support. The Mayor and the Night Czar have already made some positive noises regarding the sector and the ALMR has been liaising with them to make sure they follow through with their support.

“The ALMR is pushing for widespread adoption of the agent of change principle, something that the Mayor has spoken positively about. The principle ensures that both businesses and residents benefit, and can help avoid a repeat of the trouble that Ministry of Sound faced only a couple of years ago.

“The ALMR’s submission also calls on the Mayor’s Office to support the recommendations of the House of Lords Committee on the Licensing Act and act to ensure that no Early Morning Restriction Orders or Late Night Levies are introduced in the capital. These draconian measures place enormous burdens on businesses without tackling any of the perceived problems they are intended to.

“London’s night-time economy is worth more than £26bn and is one of the city’s greatest assets. It is home to world-renowned nightclubs attracting customers from across the globe. It is something we should all be very proud of and it is crucial that a supportive and flexible approach to promoting the sector is in place. The ALMR is looking forward to working closely with the Mayor’s Office to support its members and promote a fantastic sector.”

The BBPA has welcomed the mayor’s support for pubs and the wider night-time economy but has also highlighted key areas of concern.

In a key feature of its response, the BBPA argues against the use of Article 4 directions that can restrict even minor alterations to premises, citing changes to national planning legislation that render such measures unnecessary.

The BBPA says that the imposition of Article 4 on all pubs in an area, as recently seen in Wandsworth, can create huge inflexibility and additional costs for pubs, many of which are small independent businesses and are often the business owner’s only major asset.

The BBPA also backs the agent of change principle and maintains that Late Night Levies are counterproductive and have proved to be a damaging new tax on local businesses. The association sets out that partnership working between councils, police and local businesses, such as business improvement districts (BIDs) remains the most effective option in ensuring safety in the night-time economy.

BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “London has over 3,900 pubs, and the vibrant beer and pub sector adds £3.5bn to the economy and provides jobs for 92,000 Londoners, many of whom are young people, so the Mayor’s support for our industry is very welcome.

“Our response highlights the damaging trend of imposing Article 4 directions on pubs, a measure made unnecessary by recent changes in planning law, and our support for BIDs, instead of Late Night Levies.

“London’s pubs would also welcome further support around business rates, as many pubs in the capital have seen huge rises in their bills. We are calling for full-scale reform of the system, as pubs are paying far more than their fair share.”

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