alcohol bottles

The drinks trade has reacted angrily to proposed changes in the Policing and Crime Bill, which they claim would see a system of late night levies become a ‘first port of call’ for local authorities, rather than a ‘last resort’.

Amendments to the Bill, due to be debated by the House of Lords at committee stage on 26 October, would give statutory powers for councils to carry out cumulative impact studies on the effect of businesses selling alcohol from midnight to 6am.

The changes would also allow licensing authorities to target specific geographical locations, rather than just the whole of the local authority area as in the current system. Business leaders warned this would make it easier for overzealous fundraising from the system.

“This will make it easier for local authorities to impose a late night levy - something the BBPA has always been against, as it is a tax and not a local partnership,” said British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmonds.

“We are therefore against the flexibility that is being proposed, which would allow local authorities to impose this tax on particular geographic areas, rather than the whole local authority. Local authorities need to think carefully about how a late night levy could affect a vibrant night-time economy and whether partnership with local businesses, such as through a Business Improvement District, would not be better for both residents and local businesses.”

Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “These amendments shift the legislation further away from the government’s stance in its original guidance; that the late night levy should only be a last resort, when other options have been exhausted.”