Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Council 'Putting Pub Jobs at Risk' New Tax on Bars and Clubs 'Will Damage City's Economy'

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Council 'Putting Pub Jobs at Risk' New Tax on Bars and Clubs 'Will Damage City's Economy'

Article excerpt

Byline: ADRIAN PEARSON

A CITY drinks tax could put Newcastle pub jobs at risk as council leaders call time on alcohol-fuelled violence.

Pub bosses have warned a plan to introduce a late night drink levy on bars and clubs will put at risk "the Las Vegas of the North".

This week Newcastle Council will agree plans to start the legal process required to hit all clubs and bars open between midnight and 6am with the new tax.

And despite previous promises to reward the most responsible clubs with a lower levy, council officers in the city's public protection department have prepared a report for councillors saying they have no faith in existing best practice schemes such as Best Bar None to tackle rowdy drinking.

The council recently pulled out of the scheme, accusing it of being unable to make a big impact.

New plans for a night time levy next year will bring in some PS400,000-a-year, with some larger bars paying more than PS4,000 each.

Some venues may choose to reduce their opening hours to avoid the tax. Any mini-markets open 24 hours in the city centre will be included in the scheme.

The money, council officers say, would be spent on taxi marshalling, CCTV improvements, street pastors, street cleaning, enforcement and personal safety initiatives and increased toilet facilities. Today Damian Conway, Newcastle City Centre Pubwatch chairman, said jobs would go if all pubs were hit with the new levy. He said: "We are a powerful contributor to the economy here. We employ a lot of young adults who would otherwise not have work and together we are responsible for a vibrant night time economy.

"The council's plans to punish venues rather than work with us is going to put our reputation as the Las Vegas of the North at risk."

He added: "Through schemes like pubwatch or the Best Bar None scheme, which the council pulled out of, venues already work together, spending their own money, to work with the police to make sure everyone has a safe and enjoyable night out. …

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