Epping Forest District Council to consider charging late night levy to pubs and bars under new Government powers

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Nightclub owner Gary Smith, outside Billie Jeans. Nightclub owner Gary Smith, outside Billie Jeans.

BARS and clubs that open into the early hours could be forced to stump up for the cost of late night police patrols.

Under new powers granted to local authorities by the Government, the district council will be able to charge a 'late night levy' of up to £4,400 to all alcohol-serving businesses that stay open past midnight.

The annual fee - 70 per cent of which will go straight to police - is designed to make venues, rather than local taxpayers, foot the bill for additional patrols around their venues.

The remaining 30 per cent will go to the district council, to be spent on other activities to combat alcohol-related crime and disorder.

Councillors will meet next week to consider the proposals - but the district's bar owners say introducing the levy could mean the end for struggling businesses.

Robert Bell, 50, said the move would be 'another nail in the coffin' of Epping High Street, where he runs the Speakeasy bar which opens until 1am.

"We don't use the police at all. All I get from the police is 'you're no trouble, we don't mind coming out to help you'. We haven't even got bouncers," he said.

Mr Bell said bar owners were already paying 'top dollar' for alcohol and premises, adding it was unfair to penalise trouble-free bars and clubs.

"They should go by number of arrests a year and charge them per arrest," he said.

Gary Smith, owner of Billie Jeans nightclub in Epping High Street, also condemned the levy.

"I think it's outrageous. It's another stealth tax," said Mr Smith, 54.

"It could be the last straw that breaks the camel's back and puts one of us out of business.

"It's really hard at the moment. We are all struggling. We are trying to keep the High Street going."

The new powers also give the council the option to impose Early Morning Alcohol Restriction Orders (EMROs), restricting the sale of alcohol in all or part of the district for specific periods between 12am and 6am.

The tools - designed to give communities and councils the power to tackle late night problem drinking - come into force this month, but would be unlikely to be implemented until next year.

Hugh Farish, who lives in Beech Drive near Billie Jeans, said introducing the powers would make the district's streets safer.

"I think it'd do some good," said the 67-year-old.

"Anyone serving alcohol after 11pm should possibly pay an extra levy - I don't see why they should object.

"If I was running a nightclub I'd be only too pleased to have the support of the police.

"It's a bit unfair for everyone to have to pay for a police presence in Epping just wholly for the pleasure of those who want to enjoy going out."

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Comments (6)

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10:50am Wed 3 Oct 12

BenMurphy says...

I think it is worth the Government remembering that one the biggest drains on Essex Police's resources is Stansted Airport. The airport is, of course, a privately owned commercial entity with annual revenues of billions of pounds (BAA's 2011 revenue was reported up 9.9%).

Anthony Jackson, the Chairman of Essex Police Authority has spoken many times about his belief that the airport's owners BAA should be contributing something towards the ever-increasing costs of policing the airport, which is used by a majority of people living outside of the County of Essex, rather than Essex residents having to foot the bill through their Council Tax.

Surely it would seem a great deal fairer to place a charge on this huge international corporate conglomerate which is doing so well, rather than penalising the small bars and clubs who have been hit so hard by the effects of the UK’s recession and are desperately trying to keep their heads above water?
I think it is worth the Government remembering that one the biggest drains on Essex Police's resources is Stansted Airport. The airport is, of course, a privately owned commercial entity with annual revenues of billions of pounds (BAA's 2011 revenue was reported up 9.9%). Anthony Jackson, the Chairman of Essex Police Authority has spoken many times about his belief that the airport's owners BAA should be contributing something towards the ever-increasing costs of policing the airport, which is used by a majority of people living outside of the County of Essex, rather than Essex residents having to foot the bill through their Council Tax. Surely it would seem a great deal fairer to place a charge on this huge international corporate conglomerate which is doing so well, rather than penalising the small bars and clubs who have been hit so hard by the effects of the UK’s recession and are desperately trying to keep their heads above water? BenMurphy
  • Score: 0

12:15pm Wed 3 Oct 12

ClifftonX says...

anything that puts those sh*tty "clubs" out of business must surely be good news?
anything that puts those sh*tty "clubs" out of business must surely be good news? ClifftonX
  • Score: 0

2:12pm Wed 3 Oct 12

dtmgables says...

Id much rather my council tax was used to pay for the security of an airport than dealing with drunken yobs in sleazy nightclubs....
Id much rather my council tax was used to pay for the security of an airport than dealing with drunken yobs in sleazy nightclubs.... dtmgables
  • Score: 0

7:32pm Wed 3 Oct 12

gardenman1 says...

As usual it appears Mr Murphy is commenting on things he knows little about.
BAA contribute to Essex Police in respect of Police funding.
As usual it appears Mr Murphy is commenting on things he knows little about. BAA contribute to Essex Police in respect of Police funding. gardenman1
  • Score: 0

7:19am Thu 4 Oct 12

pan says...

I think that this is a badly thought out scheme. The Police have had enough resources cut and are struggling in my opinion to cope with all aspects of their duties as it is.

This is the potential start of a major issue that needs to be looked at from a wider angle. Paid for Policing at community level.

How could a guaranteed value for money service be offered? Would this not just be a back door tax with no obvious product on offer for the fee?

Once this is introduced what next? Areas that have high levels of specific crime such as anti-social behaviour being offered a pay as you go Police service that local councils or communities have to fork out for?

What happens if you are paying for a service and because of other incidents that may occur it can not be offered?

This is a side line to cover up the fact that the supposed powers handed to local communities is failing, councillors are failing as we are faced with many of our local high streets all suffering form late night drinking and pop up clubs.

The councillors representing these areas should grow some balls and stand up for the people that elected them and get something done.

I would lose no sleep if clubs that generate enough anti-social behaviour are just forced to shut at an acceptable hour. Responsible businesses are what is needed in our high streets and towns, if they can not respect the community that surrounds them then the community representatives should be able to enforce restrictions. That is what united communities are all about is it not?
I think that this is a badly thought out scheme. The Police have had enough resources cut and are struggling in my opinion to cope with all aspects of their duties as it is. This is the potential start of a major issue that needs to be looked at from a wider angle. Paid for Policing at community level. How could a guaranteed value for money service be offered? Would this not just be a back door tax with no obvious product on offer for the fee? Once this is introduced what next? Areas that have high levels of specific crime such as anti-social behaviour being offered a pay as you go Police service that local councils or communities have to fork out for? What happens if you are paying for a service and because of other incidents that may occur it can not be offered? This is a side line to cover up the fact that the supposed powers handed to local communities is failing, councillors are failing as we are faced with many of our local high streets all suffering form late night drinking and pop up clubs. The councillors representing these areas should grow some balls and stand up for the people that elected them and get something done. I would lose no sleep if clubs that generate enough anti-social behaviour are just forced to shut at an acceptable hour. Responsible businesses are what is needed in our high streets and towns, if they can not respect the community that surrounds them then the community representatives should be able to enforce restrictions. That is what united communities are all about is it not? pan
  • Score: 0

11:22pm Thu 4 Oct 12

Cornbeefur says...

Great news. When they close after a drink fueled night, residents nearby have to contend with the empty kebab and take-away packets, smashed telephone kiosks and bus shelters, urinations and sometimes number 2. closets, pools of vomits like colorful cow pats along the street, vandalism, drunken fighting and assaults, Police and Ambulances racing to deal with the aforementioned issues, mini-cabs tooting and slamming of car doors, singing and rowdyness.

I think they have got a good deal at 4 thousand, should be at least double that.
Great news. When they close after a drink fueled night, residents nearby have to contend with the empty kebab and take-away packets, smashed telephone kiosks and bus shelters, urinations and sometimes number 2. closets, pools of vomits like colorful cow pats along the street, vandalism, drunken fighting and assaults, Police and Ambulances racing to deal with the aforementioned issues, mini-cabs tooting and slamming of car doors, singing and rowdyness. I think they have got a good deal at 4 thousand, should be at least double that. Cornbeefur
  • Score: 0

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