Late venues could face levy to tackle drunken dis­or­der

Gov­ern­ment to con­sult on manda­tory charge

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Boxing Day Hunt - By Gerry War­ren gwar­[email protected]­m­

Clubs and bars in towns and cities with ‘sat­u­ra­tion’ zones like Can­ter­bury could be forced to pay a levy for ex­tra polic­ing and street clean­ing un­der pro­pos­als be­ing con­sid­ered by the Home Of­fice.

The Li­cens­ing Act 2003 was meant to cre­ate a cafe cul­ture in the evenings, but of­fi­cials now fear the grow­ing num­ber of bars and ex­tended later drinking is lead­ing to spi­ralling prob­lems of drunken dis­or­der and lit­ter on the streets in the early hours.

Coun­cils al­ready have pow­ers to im­pose levies on late-night venues but the vast ma­jor­ity, in­clud­ing Can­ter­bury, have so far cho­sen not to.

Now, the Home Of­fice is plan­ning to con­sult on pro­pos­als in the spring which could make such a charge manda­tory for 222 lo­ca­tions na­tion­wide - in­clud­ing Can­ter­bury - where “cu­mu­la­tive im­pact area” li­cens­ing poli­cies apply.

Spokesman Matthew Hunter said: “We are com­mit­ted to re­form­ing late night levies so that more ar­eas make ef­fec­tive use of them to deal with prob­lem in­di­vid­u­als and premises.”

The prospect is not wel­comed by the owner of Can­ter­bury’s big­gest night­club, Louise Jones, who runs Club Chem­istry and the Tokyo Tea Rooms.

She says it would pe­nalise ev­ery­one in the night-time econ­omy, in­clud­ing those who make ex­tra ef­fort to run re­spon­si­ble es­tab­lish­ments.

“It would be in­her­ently un­fair un­less it could be proved there is demon­stra­tive gain, which we can see with the Can­ter­bury BID levy,” she said.

“If you have a prob­lem venue which is putting an ad­di­tional bur­den on ser­vices, I can see the ar­gu­ment but I strug­gle with a blan­ket charge.”

Mrs Jones said it was clear that li­censees should not be serv­ing al­co­hol to those who had clearly al­ready had too much, but she also be­lieves that in­di­vid­u­als must take per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity for their be­hav­iour.

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