Southampton City Council has approved plans to introduce a Late Night Levy to the city’s nightclubs from 1 April 2015.
The plans will see venues that serve alcohol between midnight and 6am taxed to pay for services that support this night-time economy. This will affect favourite student haunts in Portswood and the City Centre as well as on campus with the Students’ Union likely to also be affected. Under the new levy only theatres, cinemas, bingo halls, hotels and community clubs and facilities are exempted from the new tax.
The decision was made at a full meeting of the Council held yesterday evening (17 September) and followed consultation with the Police and local nightlife providers. Many businesses are opposed to the plans with two thirds of those responding to the consultation opposing the new levy.
According to the council, the new levy will cost between £299 and £4,440 per year for businesses and will be used to pay for services that deal with the night time economy. These include the Council’s ICE bus service, Taxi rank marshals, the Street Pastors service, which is partly funded by council grants, and clean-up operations prior to the morning commuter traffic.
It will also be used to pay for police services between midnight and 6am, including the cost of officers being available and visible as well as contributing to the cost of operating vehicles and custody suites during this time. According to the council, these costs equate to over £1.6 million for policing and around another £100,000 for council run services.
The new levy is expected to raise around £100,000 per annum with a planned 70% going to the Police and the remaining 30% staying with the council. All of the levy will help pay for these services at a time when both Hampshire Constabulary and Southampton City Council face budget cuts.
How this change affects students financially is as yet unclear but the council are stressing that the levy is fair and they do not foresee the levy changing the business plans of the clubs themselves stating in a consultation document that the levy is “equivalent of between 82p and £12.16 per day. It is unlikely that this will have a detrimental effect on affected businesses or cause them to change their operation.”
The Wessex Scene will keep you updated with further developments.