Hospitality sector representatives have hit back at Redbridge Council's plans for a late night levy on alcohol sales - saying it is "almost beyond belief that some councils continue to push ahead with this discredited tax".
The policy, which is currently open for consultation, proposes the introduction of a levy on any licensed premises that sells alcohol between midnight and 6am - arguing that this money would be put towards funding services and policing required to maintain order in the evening hours.
If it gets the go-ahead, the council will be able to introduce the levy in the London borough from 1 October. Fees for business, dependent on their rate, can range from an additional £299 to £1,493 on top of the annual alcohol licence fee.
But sector body UKHospitality has argued against the scheme - pointing out that parliament had already denounced the policy while a Lords Select Committee report from 2017 described it as a failure that should be abolished.
In her evidence to the council UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: "It is fairly dispiriting to still be having a conversation on the levy in 2019. A comprehensively damning parliamentary report in 2017 highlighted its flaws, outlined its ineffectiveness and called for its removal. The council's proposal outright ignores the considered alternatives recently set out in the Mayor of London's Night Time Commission report, as well as being contradictory to Redbridge Council's own regeneration policy pledge to nurture partnerships. It is almost beyond belief that some councils continue to push ahead with this discredited tax.
"An additional tax on late night venues, that contribute hugely both economically and socially, would only harm Redbridge's nightlife. Only this year we have seen that money raised in nearby Hackney has not been spent in the borough. Redbridge's businesses will be paying an extra tax and the area, and the council, will almost certainly feel no benefit. The Metropolitan police are not obliged to spend any money raised in Redbridge on its activities in Redbridge. There is precious little positive to be found in heaping costs on bars, nightclubs and pubs.
"If Redbridge Council pushes ahead with this retrograde and thoroughly discredited tax, it is only going to strangle nightlife in the borough."
The consultation period ends on 7 April - local businesses who wish to submit evidence can apply here.Get The Caterer every week on your smartphone, tablet, or even in good old-fashioned hard copy (or all three!).