Late venues could face levy to tackle drunken disorder
Government to consult on mandatory charge
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.