Plans to introduce new ‘Late Night Levy’ charge on Redbridge’s night time economy take step forward

Councillor Ruth Clark at Gants Hill. She is against Night Time Levy proposals.
Photo by Ellie Hoski

Councillor Ruth Clark at Gants Hill. She is against Night Time Levy proposals. Photo by Ellie Hoskins. - Credit: Ellie Hoskins

Redbridge moved a step closer to introducing the least profitable Late Night Levy in England last night as plans for an additional charge on businesses open after midnight were approved by the borough’s licensing committee.

Redbridge Council launched a consultation in February about the idea, which would see businesses selling alcohol between the hours of 12.01am and 6am charged as much as £4,400 a year, and revealed nearly three quarters (74pc) of respondents had been in favour of the idea.

All money generated from the scheme, estimated to be around £80,000 if Ilford is included and around £74,000 if the town centre is exempt, will go towards late-night policing and clean up costs.

The use of these funds would be managed by a levy board set up solely to ensure the money is used effectively.

The meeting at Redbridge town hall in Ilford High Road on Thursday night (January 9) began with Ed Chaplin, the borough's Trading Standards and licensing manager, presenting a report to assembled councillors.

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Conservative councillor Howard Berlin went on to quiz Mr Chaplin about the impact of the levy on small businesses.

He asked: "The projected income of £74,000, from the research of other local authorities throughout England, would you agree with me that this income is the lowest of any borough in the whole country?"

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Mr Chaplin replied: "I believe it would be, yes."

The committee, after some debate about the length of time it would take for any effects of the levy to be properly felt, added a recommendation calling for a full review after two years to make sure the new charges, should they be imposed, weren't having unintended or negative consequences.

Cllr Berlin added: "There's also the impact on business. This is not much money and it could have an impact on jobs, on businesses and we may be getting in a small amount of money to spend on something but we may see people lose jobs.

"That's why this is such an important decision to make."

Both Labour and Conservative councillors were also critical of a proposed recommendation by Redbridge's licensing officers to exempt businesses in Ilford town centre who were part of the town's Business Improvement District (BID) from the levy.

Labour councillor's Anne Sachs told the meeting: "I do have a disquiet about the exempting in Ilford because I think it will result in a perception of unfairness from others who have to pay.

"I think there will be a real outcry of unfairness from some quarters."

Other councillors present also argued it was unfair to exempt businesses in Ilford, as they would almost certainly benefit from the extra measures paid for by funds raised from the levy.

During the meeting's debate session, Conservative councillor Ruth Clark produced a list of other London boroughs to have introduced a Late Night Levy.

They included the City of London, Camden, Islington, Hackney, Southwark and Tower Hamlets - all boroughs which, Cllr Clark argued, had much larger night time economies than Redbridge.

The councillor also pointed out that City Hall's Night Czar Amy Lamé, appointed by Labour's Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, had expressed concerns that the Late Night Levy had not proven effective in helping businesses.

She also referenced a House of Lords select committee report, produced by a cross party selection of peers, which criticised the Late Night Levy as a commercial enterprise.

Cllr Clark added: "Please look at this. You are putting us in a league we shouldn't be in.

"We are little Redbridge, we have one nightclub and a few bars and you want to penalise these very small businesses and they're the ones residents care about most - these little ones that open late and make a little bit of money because Sainsbury's is closed.

"They are the businesses in your wards and in our wards that will be affected."

The rest of the Late Night Levy proposals were passed by six votes to three and will be put up for vote at a full meeting of Redbridge Council next week (Thursday, January 16) .

Cllr Sachs called on the Ilford BID exemption to be removed from the proposal and this was approved by all other councillors present, so the exemption will not be in the proposals put forward at that meeting.

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