Tower Hamlets Council has announced it is to adopt a Late Night Levy charge which applies to premises that sell alcohol between midnight and 6am, beginning 1 January 2018.
Tower Hamlets initially backed down from introducing the charge as planned on 1 June, which had been labelled as flawed and unfair by its opponents.
At the time the council accepted that it did not conduct the mandatory consultation on the implementation date for the levy and that its documents were worded in such a way as to confuse consultees and were likely to mislead them.
However, a council meeting on 20 September approved the introduction of the levy. A transition period will run from 25 September to 18 December 2017, during which time licensees who wish to reduce their licensable hours, so that they do not fall within the levied hours, will be able to do so via a free minor variation.
The charge will apply whether licensed hours are used or not, and for both the on and off-trade. However, the Council has decided that a reduction of 30% will be granted to premises that achieved accreditation in Best Bar None (BBN) Scheme. Charges begin at £5.25 per week, rising to £85.38 depending on rateable value.
Funds raised are only permitted to be spent on the reduction of crime and disorder, promotion of public safety, reduction or prevention of public nuisance and the cleaning of any relevant highway or relevant land within the borough.
However, plans for the levy have again been met with protest from trade bodies.
‘This is very disappointing, and will damage the economy of a vibrant, inner London borough with a beer and pub sector that employs over 2,800 people – a point we had made very clear to the council on two occasions,’ BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said.
‘Other authorities have turned away from a levy, and a recent House of Lords report has concluded that the Late Night Levy has “failed to reach its objectives and should be abolished”. When it comes to addressing any issues in the night-time economy, there are far better solutions than this punishing new tax on local business, such as Business Improvement Districts.’
ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls added: ‘The levy will stifle investment, put jobs at risk and could ultimately see venues close. The ALMR’s submission to the Council clearly highlighted the dangers of introducing a levy and was supported by a petition from local venues opposed to the measure. It is very disappointing to see the council ignoring the concerns of its own businesses in favour of a measure that will put the area’s late-night offering at risk and, in all likelihood, have no appreciable positive impact.’