Late night alcohol tax to fund booze police in Islington
Late-night alcohol sellers face a new tax that will fund extra police officers to combat the fallout from Islington’s overactive drinking culture.
Bars, restaurants and off-licences across the borough will be hit with a special charge called the Late Night Levy.
It means businesses selling alcohol after midnight may have to pay thousands of pounds a year on top of all their other taxes.
Islington Council’s crime chief, Cllr Paul Convery, told the Gazette: “We’re a borough that has blood on our streets because of people getting drunk and committing acts of violence, and we have got to stop that.
“Every single really horrendous crime in our borough has involved excessive alcohol. It’s been right in the middle of the last five or six murders.
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“I have no hesitation in saying we absolutely will be using the Late Night Levy, because we want to maximise the level of policing.”
Cllr Convery believes as much as �500,000 could be raised, which could pay for 15 police officers or about 20 PCSOs.
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Licensed businesses will be charged up to �4,440 per year – based on their rateable values – and many are less than pleased at the prospect.
Kristie Bishop, who runs Drink, Shop and Do in Caledonian Road, King’s Cross, said: “It’s a further burden on small businesses, in these difficult economic times. I feel the government would do better trying to change social attitudes towards alcohol rather than penalising small businesses. Clearly the levy is more of a ‘shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted’ scenario.”
Christine Lovett, director of Angel Aim, which supports businesses in the Angel, said: “I think it’s very harsh and I’m very concerned. Businesses already pay a lot of tax and this might be a tax too much.”
The levy is a new power made available by the government, but it is the council’s decision to impose it. It will take effect from June next year at the earliest.
Cllr Convery added: “Businesses can choose to close earlier to avoid the levy.”