Since October 2012, Local Authorities have had the power to introduce a Late Night Levy (LNL) on premises opening after midnight under the PRSA 2011. The Levy is intended as a means of raising a contribution towards police and council accrued costs of the late-night economy.
However likely use of the Levy looks uncertain. Similarly no areas appear to have yet committed to use of Early Morning Restriction Orders (EMROs) to restrict the sale of alcohol between midnight and 6am.
According to a report in the Morning Advertiser, just 1% of councils say they plan to introduce either a LNL or EMRO, with over three quarters reportedly ruling them outaccording to a survey of 363 councils. A number of Local Authorities are however consulting on the use of the powers, such as Newcastle City Council and Milton Keynes. Blackpool and Hartlepool are understood to be considering EMROs.
A number of reasons for reluctance over the use of the powers seem apparent, ranging from insufficient expected revenue from the LNL, to legal concerns over being the first to implement new legislation. The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) have reportedly set up a 'fighting fund' to cover the cost of legal challenges against EMROs or the levy. In a BBC radio discussion, Brigid Simmonds of the BBPA argued that pubs would suffer if the on trade are further targeted, pointing out 70% of alcohol is now sold off-trade.
Cllr Brad Smith, Chairman of Bexley Council's Licensing Committee said "There are not a significant number of licensed premises which would be affected [in Bexley]... as little as only £1,000 per year would be raised". He emphasised the council had a strong process of using robust licence reviews on individual premises causing problems. In Great Yarmouth an EMRO was reportedly avoided when premises agreed to earlier voluntary closure of 4am from 6am.
In 2008 powers came in under the 2006 Violent Crime Reduction Act allowing Local Authorities to implement 'Alcohol Disorder Zones' (ADZs). ADZs were introduced to allow local authorities to impose charges on licensed premises to pay for the costs of addressing alcohol-related problems, but warnings proved true and none were ever implemented, though other powers within the 2006 act were more widely utilized. Will the LNL and EMRO be the new ADZ , or with the integration of public health within Local Authorities, is a "re-balancing" of the licensing act underway?