London borough mulls late night levy on pubs, bars and shops

Pubs, bars restaurants and retailers in the London borough of Southwark may be charged to serve booze after midnight from September if the council goes through with plans to impose a late night levy across the borough.

The Shard building at London Bridge

The council is launching a 12-week consultation next week into the levy, which would affect 439 businesses including 125 restaurants, 122 wine bars, and 73 supermarkets and shops in the South East of London, from London Bridge, to Dulwich, Rotherhide to Peckham and Camberwell.

Businesses would be charged between £299 and £4,440 a year for the license, depending on their current rateable value, however around 40 small businesses would be able to apply for a 30% reduction in the levy, as well as 140 businesses operating in the three Business Improvement District (BID) and two other best practise schemes.

The move would raise between £365,000 – £420,00 a year, which the council want to use to tackle booze-related crime and anti-social behaviour across the borough and provide a safer late night environment. Usually the levy is split between the council and the Police, but Southwark Council wants to retain the majority.

According to local news site London SE1, the area’s key crime hotspots include Borough High Street, London Bridge, and Elephant and Castle.

The council will vote on the decision in July, and if it is approved, charges will be introduced on 1 September.

Five other London boroughs have already rolled late night levies – the City of London, Camden, Islington, Hackney and Tower Hamlets – and the London borough of Redbridge also launched a consultation this month, which would affect businesses in Romford, Ilford and Chelmsford.

A further seven borough outside London also have levies, including, Chelmsford, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham and Southampton.

However a recent report on London’s night time economy by the chair of the London Night Time Commission, Kate Nicholls argued that local partnerships, particularly BIDs were a better way of managing town centres at night than introducing the levy.

“Such partnerships have been far better at bringing long-term benefits than imposing, for example, the Late Night Levy. We believe the levy should only ever be a last resort. Partnership should be the priority,” the report said.

“If the Late Night Levy or similar tax is considered, funds raised should be used to promote and support affected centres at night.”

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