Councils demand cash to fight binge drinking
Taxpayers will be left out of pocket if most of the funds go to the police, say town hall chiefs
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Tuesday 10 April 2012
Local authorities are entitled to a greater share of a new £18m levy designed to force pubs and clubs to pay for the social cost of late-night opening, council leaders claim.
The cost of running services such as taxi marshals and street wardens to help to make Britain's booze-soaked city and town centres safer in the early hours will not be met if the share of the proposed "late-night levy" remains capped at 30 per cent, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).
A Home Office consultation on the new payment, which will cost bars and nightspots up to £4,440 per year and is one of a number of measures unveiled by the Government to curb Britain's binge-drinking culture, ends today ahead of the finalisation of details and its inclusion in legislation.
The levy, whose application will be left to the discretion of individual councils, will be paid by businesses that sell alcohol or benefit from its sale at any time between midnight and 6am. According to Home Office figures, it will raise between £13.5m and £18.2m, which ministers want to split 70:30 between police and councils.
It is predicted that up to a quarter of the 42,000 pubs and bars licensed to open between those hours under laws originally designed to introduce European-style "café culture" to Britain will revert to the traditional 11pm closing time rather than pay the fee.
But town hall leaders argue that without greater autonomy in deciding how to share the levy, council-tax payers will be left out of pocket and want the decision on how to divide the income to be made at the local level. They also complain that a blanket exemption granted to bed-and-breakfast accommodation, among other types of business, is inappropriate because of drink-related incidents at some seaside B&Bs.
Mehboob Khan, chairman of the LGA's Safer and Stronger Communities board, said: "The current plans for how the money can be used risks taxpayers still being left to pick up the bill because it fails to recognise the significant contribution made by local authorities."
Under current proposals, it is estimated that each local authority will receive up to £54,000 while police will be paid up to £120,000 per force, enough to pay for 4,000 hours of police-constable time. The Association of Chief Police Officers has welcomed the change, saying it will provide badly needed funding for policing drink-related antisocial behaviour.
Representatives of landlords complain that the levy is a tax on town-centre pubs and bars which threatens to stifle partnership schemes such as Pubwatch, which shares intelligence on troublemakers and potential problems between publicans and the authorities.
- 1 Double chins could be 'cured' without surgery or dieting using new injection
- 2 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 3 Dog thinks owner is drowning in lake, dives in and tries to pull him out
- 4 Thank heavens for Louise Mensch and her foul-mouthed tweets to world leaders
- 5 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Greece elections: Greek PM Alexis Tsipras takes aim at 'neo-liberal' Europe as country gears up for prolonged austerity battle
Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary: Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
Chilling drone footage captures Auschwitz ahead of 70th anniversary of liberation
Prince Philip set to be knighted by Australia: Celebrate by reading his greatest gaffes
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
£125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...
£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...
£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...
Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Application Architect/Developer - Peterborough, Cam...