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Second bid for council night time levy on booze outlets agreed by Tower Hamlets

PUBLISHED: 14:18 20 July 2017 | UPDATED: 14:23 20 July 2017

GLA's night economy tzar Amy Lame (left) on fact-finding tour of Brick Lane in April, 2017, with Tower Hamlets councillors. Picture: Rehan Jamil

GLA's night economy tzar Amy Lame (left) on fact-finding tour of Brick Lane in April, 2017, with Tower Hamlets councillors. Picture: Rehan Jamil

© Rehan Jamil

Controversial plans to bring in a night levy on selling alcohol after midnight are back on the drawing board after traders legally challenged Tower Hamlets Council’s earlier attempt.

Thriving Brick Lane where Tower Hamlets Council wants a night levy on booze outlets to help deal with revellers and drunks. Picture: Mike BrookeThriving Brick Lane where Tower Hamlets Council wants a night levy on booze outlets to help deal with revellers and drunks. Picture: Mike Brooke

Two public consultations are being staged in a move agreed at last night’s council meeting after an embarrassing climb-down.

The original June 1 date set for the levy had to be scrapped—first revealed in the East London Advertiser last month—after a legal challenge by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers.

The levy on bars and restaurants was to help pay for extra police in areas like Brick Lane and Spitalfields to deal with drunks and yob behaviour.

But flawed public consultations were “misleading” on which outlets could be charged and whether it was confined to trouble spots. They had a “fundamental misunderstanding of the law” by not stating when the levy would start or that it would only apply to premises selling booze after midnight, implying the charge would be on all traders.

There was no realistic prospect of winning a court case, councillors were told last night. So the levy plans were hurriedly withdrawn by the chief executive rather than face heavy legal costs and risk losing the case.

Now fresh consultations with specific proposals are being held at the Bow Idea Store in Roman Road Market at 6.30pm next Tuesday and at 7pm on August 23.

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