Late night levy on agenda

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Blackpool could consider charging pubs and clubs to stay open after midnight in order to pay for measures to make the town centre safer at night.

The council’s Licensing Committee heard a late night levy could help fund initiatives such as a return to manned CCTV, taxi marshals and more street cleaning which are among a raft of recommendations made in the wake of the EMRO (Early Morning Restriction Order) hearing.

The committee met yesterday to consider the interim report of the Nighttime Economy Working Group which was set up after calls for an EMRO were rejected in February.

They heard that some kind of funding pot needed to be established to pay for many of the improvements suggested.

Coun David O’Hara said he believed a late night levy was “probably the only way we would get enough funds to have a chance.”

Licensing chairman Coun Adrian Hutton said: “A late night levy could be used for things like taxi marshals, CCTV and additional cleaning but we would have to work out how much money we would get and how that could be used.”

A late night levy would require any licensed premises having to pay an extra charge if they wished to serve alcohol between midnight and 6am.

Annual payments would range between £299 and £4,400 depending on set criteria and venue.

The levy charge would be split with 70 per cent going to the police, and 30 per cent going to the council, to be used to tackle crime and disorder, public safety, nuisance and street cleaning.

Blackpool previously considered a late night levy in 2012 but the possibility was never pursued.

The council’s head of licensing Sharon Davies told the committee: “The one issue with a levy is it would affect the whole of Blackpool and not just the town centre.

“We have started to work out some preliminary figures about what money could be raised through a levy but as we have about 1,500 licensed premises it is a sizeable task.

“There could be exemptions, for example for hotels who only sell alcohol to residents.

“We are hoping to talk to Newcastle because they have had their levy up and running for 12 months.”

A full report is due back before the committee before the end of February.