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Late night levy passed in Camden

PUBLISHED: 15:07 26 January 2016 | UPDATED: 15:26 26 January 2016

Venues which stay open past midnight will now have to pay towards the costs of policing in Camden

Venues which stay open past midnight will now have to pay towards the costs of policing in Camden

Archant

Camden pubs and clubs which stay open past midnight will soon have to pay towards the costs of cleaning and policing the streets after the Council voted through a “late night levy”.

Camden pubs and clubs which stay open past midnight will soon have to pay towards the costs of cleaning and policing the streets after the council voted through the controversial “late night levy”.

The charge was approved at a full council meeting last night, in spite of objections from licensed premises who say the levy could adversely impact on low paid workers in the borough.

Nigel Connor, speaking on behalf of JD Wetherspoons, who have seven venues in the borough, warned these establishments might choose to close an hour earlier, meaning that bar staff would lose out on an hour’s pay every night.

He said: “There will be a loss of diversity in the late night economy, and premises will close leaving music-led venues open”.

Mr Connor said that if midnight became a “terminal hour” in the borough, this could place stress on taxis and public transport.

He also cautioned the council not to rely on income from the levy which may not materialise if venues decide to close at midnight to avoid paying.

He said: “It is not a golden goose. You need to carefully consider the likely benefit of the income received against the likely impact.”

Mr Connor named Cheltenham as an example of where the levy had not raised the expected revenue, saying it only generated £77,000 against the anticipated £200,000 in the past year.

A representative from the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), urged the council to consider alternative schemes because of the potential unintended consequences of the levy.

Conservative Cllr Gio Spinella voted against the levy, pointing out that it had been rejected by Westminster and saying he feared Camden venues would be disadvantaged compared to those in Soho.

But Cllr Richard Cotton said that most residents’ groups were in favour of the levy, and that those living near Camden Lock had their lives made miserable every weekend by night time revellers.

Cabinet member for culture, Jonathan Simpson, said the council had carried out two consultations and had taken on board the concerns of venues.

He said that although the night time economy was good for Camden, residents still suffered from its “ill effects”, including high levels of alcohol related violence, public urination and vomiting.

The levy will be used to fund pop-up urinals, extra street cleaning and additional patrols.

Cllr Simpson said the council were committed to reviewing the policy in a year’s time, but that two thirds of respondents to the consultations had been in favour of the levy.

It was voted through by a clear majority, and will be implemented on a sliding scale, based on the rateable value of premises.

Those venues in business improvement districts (BIDS) - which includes Camden Town - will receive a 30 per cent discount.

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