Move to axe late-night pub tax welcomed

Wharfedale Observer: Councillor Ryk Downes Councillor Ryk Downes

A decision to abandon a late-night levy on pubs and clubs to help pay for policing in Leeds has been welcomed by councillors from Otley and Yeadon.

The controversial additional business tax on pubs and clubs would have taken money from the outlying areas in order to subsidise the city centre, according to the three councillors for the area.

A report by Leeds City Council’s resources scrutiny board at last week’s executive board meeting recommended that they should not proceed with plans for a night time levy.

The levy would have applied to any pub or club across Leeds that opened between 12.30am and 6am and was expected to raise an extra £635,000 to help minimise the impact of the ‘night time economy’ on the city.

Coun Ryk Downes said: “As a member of Licensing, I was always concerned about the impact of the levy on areas outside the city centre and on Otley and Yeadon in particular.

“The levy would have taken £43,000 from Otley pubs and clubs alone to fund the centre of Leeds night time economy.

“The scrutiny report specifically mentions Otley as an area that would be unlikely to receive resources because of the lack of ‘threat, risk or harm’, I am therefore pleased that executive board has kicked out these ill-thought out plans.”

Coun Colin Campbell added: “The levy, once applied, was to be spent, primarily by the police, in areas according to ‘threat, risk and harm’ which to all intents and purposes meant Leeds city centre.

“I didn’t see the sense why the pubs, clubs and bars of Otley and Yeadon should subsidise the city centre.”

Coun Sandy Lay said: “The problem with such a scheme was that it is such a blunt instrument and in areas such as Otley and Yeadon, which have highly effective pub watch schemes running already, the levy just isn’t needed.”

The report to the Executive Board said: “The legislation and guidance around the late-night levy is a blunt instrument. It is inflexible and inherently unfair, resulting in many ‘non-polluters’ paying what is essentially an additional business tax.”

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