October 23 2014 Latest news:
by Rory Brigstock-Barron
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Pubs in Islington could be forced to close when the council brings in a tax on alcohol sold in the early hours, a landlord has said.
The late-night levy – which will penalise pubs, clubs and restaurants open past midnight – will be introduced in autumn, and could see charges of as much as £4,440 a year for the largest businesses.
The money will be used to fund private security guards and to clean up the effects of the borough’s rampant nighttime economy.
Last week pub giant JD Wetherspoon announced it would change its opening times to avoid being hit by the levy, which will affect nearly a third of the borough’s 1,300 licensed premises.
Matt Mitchell-Waite – landlord at the New Rose in Essex Road, which is currently open till 2am on Friday and Saturday nights – said he and others would have to consider selling up if they could not afford to open past midnight.
“I’ll weigh it up and if I can’t afford to do it, I’ll have to look at whether it’s worth trading at all. The bulk of the trade is after midnight,” he said.
“Lots of pubs could close, they’re closing left, right and centre as it is. I don’t think anybody realises how much pubs are struggling at the moment.”
The levy is a response to the high level of alcohol-related crime in the borough, which the council said was the cumulative effect of numbers of premises and people.
People living close to the borough’s busiest nighttime areas have welcomed the move.
One resident, a grandmother who lives near Essex Road, said: “There are so many bars and restaurants that are close to where people live. I have my grandchildren over to stay and often they can’t sleep.
“On Saturday and Sunday mornings there are bottles in the street as well as the public nuisance of men peeing in the street.”
Cllr Paul Convery, Islington Council’s executive member for community safety, welcomed the JD Wetherspoon decision, but disputed the levy would cause pubs to close. He said: “I understand why they’re upset about this. It’s a change to their business model, but it will benefit them in the long run.
“If we’ve got pubs that are saying that the only way they can make money is by pouring alcohol into people who are already drunk after midnight, then they need to look at their clientèle.
“The levy is there to hit clubs, places that rely solely on late night drinking and are open to 3am or 4am.”