Late night levy 'an unfair charge'

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Staff reporter

CONTROVERSIAL new powers which give local authorities the ability to make a charge on premises which serve alcohol after midnight will be raised by Wrexham Council next week.

The Late Night Levy enables licensing authorities to raise an annual contribution of up to £4,400 per year from alcohol sellers open between midnight-6am.

Introduced by the UK government last month, the levy goes towards policing the night-time economy.

It has proved unpopular with licensees but the government has argued it is not fair to expect local communities and taxpayers to bear the brunt of the costs that the late night economy causes in their area.

The UK’s estimated annual bill for alcohol-related crime and disorder is £11bn.

The decision over whether to introduce a levy is ultimately down to the local authority.

Alex Jones, owner of the Bank Bar on High Street and chairman of Wrexham’s nightsafe scheme, has voiced his opposition to the levy were it to be introduced in the town.

He said: “The pub trade is already hard up as it is at the moment. I already pay an extortionate amount in business rates and some of that goes to policing.

“Say it’s going to cost us £1,000 – that money has to come from somewhere so I’ve got to pass that on to the customers and the price of a pint goes up by 5p for example.”

Amanda Hughes, manager of Saith Seren on Chester Street, which opens until 1am on Saturdays, said she did not think the levy would be fair on smaller licensed premises.

She said: “It’s a difficult time for landlords as it is with rent and beer prices increasing so if this were to be put on us it would be unfair.

“If it was a high risk venue where police are called all the time then fair enough, but we’ve been trading for 12 months and never had to call the police.”

An information report on the Late Night Levy is on the agenda at Wrexham Council’s licensing committee meeting on Monday.

The committee will be asked to note the report. A council spokesman stressed no decision on whether to implement a levy would be made at the meeting.

Also up for discussion are Early Morning Restriction Orders (EMROs) which restrict the time after which alcohol may be sold in a certain area between midnight-6am.

The two measures were introduced by the UK government on October 31 as part of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act.

See full story in the Leader

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