Tower Hamlets Council has insisted a late-night levy needs to be put in place to manage the growing night-time economy, despite strong opposition from licensees. The authority wants to impose a levy on all premises that are licensed to sell alcohol between midnight and 6am from November this year.
Although local pub and bar owners have been highly critical of the move, Tower Hamlets Council has argued it is a “necessary measure”, the Evening Standard reports.
However, a spokesman said the authority is “committed to looking carefully at the feedback we have received and carefully weighing up the views of respondents”.
The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has set up a petition to lobby the council against implementing the measure, following the end of an official consultation.
Tony Sophoclides, director of communications at the body, said it gathered a “good number of signatures” in only one afternoon, while licensees, staff members and some customers were concerned about the effects of the proposed levy.
Mr Sophoclides argued that the move would raise costs for businesses, harm investment and “ultimately threaten jobs and venues themselves”.
Furthermore, he said the additional burdens will have a “negative effect without addressing any perceived areas of complaint”.
Tower Hamlets Council was therefore urged to “listen to the opposition being voiced by its own businesses” and rethink its decision.
Christian Rose, managing director of All Star Lanes, is among the critics of the late-night levy, pointing out that local businesses are “already burdened by hefty rate rises, duty on alcohol and corporation tax”.
This, he said, would be expected to “provide adequate resources to ensure the safety of our community”.
Mr Rose added that if the levy is put in place as planned, the council and the policy should share a full assessment of its efficacy.
Ally Shaw, manager of the Victoria Pub in Mile End, also spoke out against the measure, stating that Tower Hamlets has a “vibrant and important late-night economy and venues in the area contribute a lot economically and socially”.
He pointed out that since pubs and bars already pay a “significant amount” in taxes and rates, an additional tax “is going to be difficult to take for many employers”.
Mr Shaw added that venues in the area must “understand the danger the levy poses and come together to present a united front in opposition”.
For further information on any of the points raised in this article please contact Robert Botkai in our Commercial Real Estate and Licensing department.