The BBPA has submitted its response to the Government Consultation on Late Night Levys and Early Morning Restriction Orders. This consultation relates to proposed powers which would allow local councils to close all premises within an area between midnight and 6am, and to levy a new tax on certain premises open after midnight, will impose unfair additional burdens on pubs.
The BBPA, which is preparing its own detailed submission, says the plans will:
• Undermine the Government’s commitment to tackle red tape for small businesses and go against the Government’s ‘one-in, one-out’ commitment to contain regulation. The Budget in March 2011 saw the announcement of a three-year moratorium on new domestic regulations for smaller companies. However, as a tax the Levy is excluded from this, and the Home Office has requested that EMROs be exempted from this moratorium.
• Exclude casinos, restaurants and hotel bars, putting an unfair burden on pubs. There should be no exemptions from either EMROs or LNL based on ‘type’ of premises. If these measures are to be introduced all premises licensed for the late night sale and supply of alcohol should be subject to them.
• Undermine successful local partnerships between the police, local councils and the pub trade. The BBPA agrees with National Pubwatch that the proposals would damage existing schemes which could take years to recover. If businesses are forced to pay a further tax, they would be far less willing to continue to voluntarily fund and support the full range of initiatives that currently benefit the local community. Where such schemes as Pubwatch, Best Bar None and BIDs exist and are working effectively, this should be reason enough not to introduce an EMRO or LNL.
• Challenge the key principle of the Licensing Act 2003, which says that premises should be dealt with ‘on their own merits’. The BBPA wants discounts to be down to local authority discretion rather than proscribed by central Government. A range of reductions to 100 per cent should be available to local authorities, for membership of established schemes such as Pubwatch, Best Bar None and Business Improvement Districts. There is no reason for local authorities to be restricted to a discount of only 30 per cent if in their view, the schemes merit higher discounts.
• Encourage a new tax on local businesses. It is important that licensing authorities retain full control of the process in deciding to implement a Late Night Levy and do not come under undue pressure from police to agree to it for revenue raising reasons. 70 per cent of the money raised by the Levy will go to the police, with no restriction on how they spend the money, or where. Councils, on the other hand, are constrained on how they use the money.