A levy targeting clubs, pubs and bars serving alcohol during late hours in Nottingham could be scrapped to reduce the “financial burden” on businesses and to “revitalise” the city’s night-time economy.
Nottingham City Council’s licensing committee will assess whether to scrap the Late Night Levy (LNL) from October this year when the current levy period comes to an end.
The city’s LNL was first approved by the council in 2014 and means relevant businesses pay between £299 and £4,440 per year depending on the rateable value of their premises.
Income from the levy is then split 30:70 between the council and the police and crime commissioner, with funds used to offset the cost of managing crime and disorder issues in the city at night.
Eligible businesses are those that serve alcohol to the public between 12.01am and 6am under their licence agreement.
However, businesses registered with the Nottingham BID are exempt from paying the levy due to the BID having its own plans to manage anti-social behaviour in the city at night.
The BID covers businesses within the city centre, with about 109 premises eligible for the exemption.
But council documents state there are a further 144 premises within the city boundary, which also includes suburbs like Lenton and Sherwood, that are liable to pay the LNL.
This includes 48 within the city centre with an NG1 postcode, which are not members of the BID, and a further 96 outside the city centre.
Roughly half of these businesses pay £768 for the levy each year.
But now the authority is considering scrapping the levy on October 31 this year in response to the financial pressures suffered by businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.
This could only be done at the point in which the levy comes to an end, with the LNL extended at the end of October each year since 2014.
If approved by the licencing committee on Friday, May 6, the authority will launch a public consultation on whether the levy should come to an end.
The council will also consult with Nottinghamshire Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry on the impact it could have on night-time policing.
Writing in the report, Melanie Bird, Licensing Compliance Manager at the council, said: “The pandemic … highlighted the financial pressures on businesses and that the revocation of the levy could be considered as an approach to reduce that burden.
“The LNL costs may be considered a barrier to incoming or expanding businesses. The option for removal of the LNL annual payments reduces the financial burden on licensed trade businesses.
“This may assist in the viability of existing businesses but also those considering opening in the city which may by virtue of their planned opening hours be liable for the LNL fee.
“This could support revitalising the economy within this business sector.”
However, concerns have been raised by Mrs Henry (Con), the county’s crime commissioner, who is using some of the income generated by the LNL to fund the police’s Operation Guardian.
The operation patrols the city centre during major events like bank holidays and when higher levels of drinking take place, to assess for drug usage and anti-social behaviour.
Mrs Henry told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I would be disappointed if the Late Night Levy was scrapped, because of the work that has been done on the needs assessment which has now established a firm basis for using the money to best effect and to the benefit of the public and businesses within Nottingham City.
“Key stakeholders within the city council fed into the report, and the report was recently shared with the city council including the licensing committee.
“I hope consideration will be given to its proposals as they would provide a collective benefit to us all.”