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Proposed £4m late-night levy slammed by Brighton nightclubs
5:00am Tuesday 11th March 2014 in News
Nightclub owners and pub bosses have warned that a late-night levy could hold back Brighton and Hove’s famed after dark economy.
Proposals for a late-night levy which could raise up to £4 million a year to cover the costs of policing and clearing up after the late-night revellers were discussed by Brighton and Hove City Council’s licensing committee last week.
The council has agreed to put the proposals on hold and monitor the success of similar schemes elsewhere in the country before proceeding further.
The levy could potentially affect more than 350 venues across the city which currently remain open past midnight.
Venues could be made to pay annual fees of up to £1,500 depending on their size.
Concerns raised about the proposals in the council report included fears that will not counter so-called “pre-loading” of alcohol before customers head out for an evening and even “aggravate” the situation.
Council officials also warned about the economic effects of the levy on businesses and the fairness of passing the burden onto venues rather than the community as a whole.
Albie Saliba, director of VIP super club Shooshh in Kings Road in Brighton, said: “Brighton is known for its nightlife which attracts people from all over the country, there are not many places where you can party until six, and a levy risks damaging that economy.
“I appreciate that it can take up a lot of the police’s time but I don’t think it’s fair that we should bear all the burden.
“People come to our clubs already preloaded with alcohol they bought from their off-licences, if we have to pay why not the off-licences too?
“The industry we are in is already struggling ever since the decision to allow pubs to open later which forces us to stay open later to attract customers.”
Martin Webb, who owns several pubs in the city including The Stoneham, The Connaught and The Robin Hood, said the levy was a “terrible and unfair idea” that threatened to kill the goose that laid the golden egg.
He said: “The late night economy is already fragile and this could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
“We already pay high rents, high business rates and we pay good wages, so anything that brings additional costs is not good.
“90% of venues don’t cause any problems for the police so any levy should focus on the small minority of venues that do draw on police and council resources.”
A Brighton and Hove City Council spokeswoman said: “Brighton and Hove City Council is not currently considering the introduction of a late night levy for the city.
“Officers and partners will continue to monitor trends in the city relating to crime and disorder.
“Only one local authority, Newcastle, introduced a late night levy in November 2013 and officers will evaluate the effectiveness of the levy in Newcastle after a year of operation.”
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