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Greater share of clubs levy urged

Councils have called to be allowed to keep a greater share of a proposed new levy on late-opening bars and nightclubs.

Town hall leaders warned that a planned 30% cap on their entitlement from the proceeds of the Late Night Levy risked leaving local taxpayers out of pocket.

The Home Office has been consulting on proposals to give licensing authorities in England and Wales the ability to charge establishments that open after midnight so that they contribute to the costs of keeping their areas safe and clean.

Councils will only be allowed to retain up to 30% of the revenue from the levy, however, to pay for the provision of services like taxi marshals, late night wardens and street cleaning.

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents council leaders, called for more local autonomy in the arrangements for sharing the proceeds.

Mehboob Khan, chair of the LGA's safer and stronger communities board, said: "It's entirely appropriate that bars and clubs should contribute towards the cost of cleaning up the inevitably messy aftermath of a big night out.

"The introduction of a Late Night Levy is a definite step in the right direction, but the current plans for how the money can be used risks taxpayers still being left to pick up the bill because it fails to recognise the significant contribution made by local authorities.

"The best way to tackle rowdy alcohol-fuelled trouble is to minimise the chances of it happening in the first place. Councils have led the way at this, whether it be employing taxi marshals to keep things in check as revellers make their way home in the early hours, or redesigning high streets to remove pressure points which get too crowded at closing time at the local nightclub.

"This sort of innovation could be stifled if Government persists with placing too many restrictions on how money should be spent."

The consultation closes on Tuesday.


From Belfast Telegraph