JD Wetherspoon to close Islington pubs early to avoid late-night levy
15:43 09 July 2014
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Wetherspoon pubs in the borough will cut their opening hours at the weekends when the late-night levy is introduced.
Pubs such as The Angel in Islington and The Coronet in Holloway could close up to half an hour earlier on Fridays and Saturdays to avoid the tax that would hit any licensed premisses open after midnight,
The levy, which is set to be introduced in the autumn and is already being enforced by councils in Newcastle and Cheltenham, would effect nearly a third of the borough’s 1,300 licensed premises.
The money would be used to fund the police and other services needed to deal with the borough’s rampant nighttime economy.
But JD Wetherspoon, which saw its like-for-like sales lift 4.9 per cent in the 10 weeks to July 6, said the levy is an unfair tax burden on publicans.
Chairman Tim Martin, who founded the company in 1979, said: “It is not economically viable for us to be open for those two hours over the weekend. Pubs already pay a heavy tax burden compared to other types of businesses.”
Cllr Paul Convery, Islington Council’s executive member for community safety, said he hoped all pubs would follow by Wetherspoon’s example.
“I welcome it,” said Cllr Convery. “We would much rather pubs closed at 12am than have to pay the tax that we would then spend on cleaning up after drunk people.
“Midnight is not an unreasonable time to close. If you go to a pub after midnight, it’s usually full of people who are pretty far gone pouring alcohol down their throats.”