A borough once known as London’s “party capital” has become the latest to propose a night-time tax on bars and clubs, triggering a backlash among nightclub bosses.
Southwark council said it hopes to raise more than £400,000 a year from the levy to spend on extra security and police. The borough is home to some of the capital’s biggest nightclubs including Ministry of Sound in Elephant and Castle and Peckham’s Bussey Building.
But nightclub bosses today warned they will be “strangled” by the new levy, which will range from £299 to £4,440 a year depending on size of business and turnover.
The fees, set to come into force from September, will hit all bars and clubs in the borough which serve alcohol between midnight and 6am. Ministry of Sound chairman Lohan Presencer told the Standard it could force smaller businesses to shrink their opening hours.
He said: “I think it’s a terrible shame and an unreasonable additional burden on night-time operators who are already making their fair contribution through local business rates and taxes.
“The history of Southwark goes all the way back to the drink and debauchery of The Globe theatre, and it was at one time the party capital of the city.” He added: “People come to London because of the nightlife, and I think it is going to impact heavily on the smaller businesses — some may well end up changing their opening hours. London is a city where people don’t just want housing blocks, they want places to go out.”
Tom Broadbent, 31, owner of TOLA in Peckham, said: “They’re trying to push the regeneration of the area and it requires businesses like us to draw people in. If they strangle us then it could affect everyone.”
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the UK Hospitality trade body, said it was “incredibly disappointed” by the decision. But Kieran Canavan, 53, owner of Canavans Snooker Club, in Peckham, said: “I was happy to sign up for it. There are no police here after 8pm, we’ve had problems here on many occasions and have had to wait 90 minutes for anyone to arrive.”
Southwark is the sixth London borough to implement a levy, after Camden, Islington, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and the City of London.
The council said the cost to the borough of policing late at night has rocketed to nearly £300,000 a year, but it will review the levy after a year.