Councillors are now allowing the public to comment on plans that could make Islington one of the first places in the UK to charge a levy on late-night alcohol venues, giving the money to police to deal with crime.
The proposals, which were discussed at a full council meeting on Thursday, are part of the Council’s new licensing strategy that aims to deal with crime and disorder related to excessive late night drinking.
Councillor Paul Convery, Executive Member for Community Safety, told council members: “We have a legal, and I would say, moral duty to ensure the protection of young people and children, to ensure the protection of all adults, and to prevent crime and disorder caused by alcohol.”
New legislation from last year allows the council to enforce a late-night levy on licensed premises open between midnight and 6am. The fee will range from £300 for smaller venues to £4,440 for larger places.
At least 70 percent of the revenue raised must be given to the police to help combat crime in the borough. The council can retain the remaining 30 percent to spend on other services.
“Saturation zones”, where there are deemed to be too many drinking establishments, could be extended in areas such as Angel, Clerkenwell and Caledonian. New premises may be refused licences in saturation zones.
Restricted opening hours of off-licences and restaurants could also be enforced.
Councillor Convery said: “We’re not being a bossy town hall telling people what they should or should not do with their lives. But we need to be a safer, healthier, better place to live, and alcohol reduction is fundamental to that.”
Elliot Townsey is owner of Simmons bar on Caledonian road, which is open past midnight three nights a week. He says, “I think it is a major money-making scheme. My main criticism of it is that I don’t think every penny of will be spent on Islington. I don’t see how it is going to help Islington.”
The policy will now be subject to public consultation and the council will make a final decision in January.