Green Councillors on Brighton & Hove City Council are urging central government devolve a proportion of alcohol tax receipts to local and police authorities, to bring about a simpler alternative to the Late Night Levy.
In a letter released this week, following a successful Green motion brought to Full Council in December, the Council’s Chief Executive has asked the Minister for Policing, Crime and Criminal Justice, Mike Penning MP, to devolve a proportion of revenue raised from the £10 billion of taxation on alcohol sales, to local Police and Crime Commissioners and Directors of Public Health. The funding would be used to strengthen late night policing in areas of high concentrations of late-night venues, and support preventive programmes for tackling alcohol-related harm.
Green councillors and campaigners stress the need for action following the release of the Brighton & Hove Health Profile in June 2015, which showed the city is performing worse than other local authorities in relation to alcohol-related hospital admissions, intentional alcohol-poisoning and alcohol-related violent crime and disorder.
The move comes as Brighton & Hove Council is considering introduction of a Late Night Levy on pubs and clubs in the city to pay for policing in the night-time economy. According to Greens, however, the Levy presents practical difficulties and high administration costs, while failing to target supermarkets and off licences where revellers can purchase cheap alcohol at any time of day, in order to ‘pre-load’ before a night out.
Green Councillor and spokesperson for Licensing, Lizzie Deane, said:
“We are not advocating that the council abandons the possibility of introducing the Late Night Levy, indeed far from it – it is, after all, the only offer on the table for tackling alcohol related issues. However, we believe the concept is flawed, and would suggest there are easier ways to raise money to tackle alcohol related issues. I am really not surprised that it has had a very low take-up nationally.
“We recognise concerns expressed by local venues that the Late Night Levy could damage the night-time economy by increasing their costs. We like to support our pubs and clubs (the on-trade) as we believe they offer a safer environment in which to drink and be entertained. We therefore believe that a fair and proportionate means of collecting additional revenue is necessary to fund the significant antisocial behaviour caused by alcohol misuse and binge-drinking. This means targeting all businesses selling alcohol, including the supermarkets whose bargain-priced alcohol fuels many of these problems.
“We are keen to promote responsible drinking and want to support the late night economy. However, we believe the Late Night Levy is not the best way to raise the funds necessary to police it effectively, and that it is within the government’s gift to make it fairer and simpler all round.”