City clubs and bars hit by ‘late-night levy’

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Mathew Street in Liverpool. Photo: Ida Husøy

Mathew Street in Liverpool. Photo: Ida Husøy

Liverpool City Council has given the go-ahead to a ‘late-night levy’ on pubs, clubs and bars across town, costing businesses up to £4,400 a year.

Due to come into effect in April 2017,  the tax will see licensed drinking venues that open past midnight pay a fee according to their location and popularity with patrons.

Money raised from the tax, which will be spit 70/30 between Merseyside Police and Liverpool City Council, will then be used to pay for police patrols and street cleaning in a bid to tackle alcohol-related crime on Friday and Saturday nights.

Merseyside Police backs the tax after pointing to statistics that show an increase in crime between midnight and 6am at the weekend.

But the levy has received criticism by some, including North West Licensing consultant, Paul Douglas. He told JMU Journalism: “It’s a disgrace. The city has achieved Purple Flag status and now we are going to hit all the licensed venues with an extra tax which is going to increase their costs and possibly force them to closer earlier.

“I was quite surprised by the proposals. As I say, it isn’t worth it. It didn’t merit it and the Purple Flag Status is supposed to confirm Liverpool’s safe status.”

Liverpool was awarded Purple Flag Status in 2010 after showing it had a well-managed night time economy as a result of  increasing footfall, decreasing crime rate and safe transport links.

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However, the cost of policing Liverpool’s nightlife has exceeded £540,000 annually, a result of 100,00 revellers descending on the city centre every Saturday night.

A spokesperson for Liverpool City Council said: “The council approves the late-night levy to support Merseyside Police, except businesses in the business district, to start April 2017 and to be reviewed in 12 months.

“Money raised will be used for cleaning and policing the city in face of cuts affecting those areas.”

The tax follows a series of incentives introduced by the city council in recent years in a bid to crack down on anti-social behaviour on nights out.

Last year, the council trialled Breathalyser tests on the doors of 25 clubs and pubs across the city as part of a campaign to curb excessive ‘pre-drinking’.

About Rhys Edmondson, JMU Journalism