Hackney police chief welcomes late-night levy as opponents call it ‘disastrous’

A file image of cocktails being poured at Zigfrid von Underbelly in Hoxton Square. Picture: Voist Lt

A file image of cocktails being poured at Zigfrid von Underbelly in Hoxton Square. Picture: Voist Ltd/Creative Commons licence CC BY 2.0 - Credit: Archant

Hackney’s top cop has welcomed the arrival of a late-night levy to help fund policing of the borough’s boozing hotspots – but opponents have labelled it “disastrous”.

The charge, signed off at last night’s full council meeting, will raise £400,000 a year for additional enforcement and street cleaning.

Cops reckon it costs £1.4million to police the night-time economy areas such as Shoreditch, Hoxton and Dalston – £890,000 of which is spent on funding staff.

From November 1, 429 licensed premises – pubs, clubs, off-licences and supermarkets included – that sell booze between midnight and 6am will have to pay up.

The national trade body representing licensed businesses said the fee could force many out of business. But borough commander Det Ch Insp Simon Laurence said the money would help relieve the pressure on his force , which is dealing with huge government cuts.

He said: “We dedicate resources specifically to the night time economy to work with the key partners and keep the area safe.

“With limited resources this is becoming more difficult to achieve – especially with late night licenses that run into Bank Holidays as officers are entitled to a premium payment should they work beyond 7am - so I will welcome extra funds in order to help keep Hackney a safe place to live, work and enjoy.”

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The council wrote to all licensees but just more than half responded. And just under half of those opposed the fee, which is based on the rateable value of the business and ranges from £299 to £4,400.

Kate Nicholls, CEO of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, said the council’s decision was disappointing given the House of Lords licensing committee had recommended scrapping levies and Gloucester had recently decided not to bring one in.

She said: “This is an extremely retrograde action, one that will heap costs on vital businesses in the area and is likely to have a disastrous effect for employers who provide so much.

“Clubs, bars and other late-night venues in Hackney contribute enormously socially and economically and help make Hackney the vibrant and attractive place it is. Heaping costs on them is only going to risk driving them out of business.”

Forty traders already take part in a voluntary scheme, which brings in £56,000 a year to pay for council-funded security in Dalston and Shoreditch at weekends.

Business boss Cllr Guy Nicholson said:“Hackney has a great reputation as a destination with an exciting and original entertainment and hospitality offer, but this can come at a cost to public services and have an impact on the quality of life in the borough.”