Islington council wants to tackle drink-related anti-social behaviour by imposing a charge on bars which sell alcohol after midnight.
A law passed last year, the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 means the council can charge a levy on venues which are open between midnight and 6am to help cover the cost of policing. The Late Night Levy will be introduced next June and could cost licensed businesses up to £4,000 a year.
Islington councillor Paul Convery said the authority had licenced a large number of entertainment venues in the past in a bid to profit from the late night economy. That decision has now come back to bite them — according to a police report, Islington has second-highest rate of alcohol-related violent crime in London (Westminster has the highest) and the highest rate of alcohol-related hospital admissions in London, both for under-18s and adults.
Lib Dem councillor Tracy Ismail, said:
"The main problem around anti-social behaviour at night in Islington involves pubs, bars and clubs with late-night licences. So it's really good news that the Government is giving Islington new powers to tackle the issue.
"The last Labour government's licensing reforms unfortunately created a decade-long booze free-for-all in Islington and it's time to put residents first again."
The borough's bar owners are less happy about the plans to tax them further or force them to close earlier, calling the move 'heavy handed'. All local authorities will have the power to bring in the new levy from October, but Islington is the first London borough to announce plans to implement the tax.
Photo by mumphalee in the Londonist Flickr pool.