Campus bars will be forced to pay up to £550 per event under the City of York Council’s proposed late-night levy on serving alcohol after midnight.
The council expects to generate up to £286,000 by charging an additional annual fee payable by certain premises that are authorised to supply alcohol during the late night supply period.
The annual levy fee would run from 1st April 2014 to the 31st March 2015, and all campus bars would be forced to pay the maximum fee of £4,400, in order to allow campus venues to run licensed activity from midnight through to usual close time of 2am or 3am.
Each campus venue holds a maximum of 20 late night events per year, with The Courtyard hosting an average of 20. If the levy is implemented on campus, the extra cost of putting these events on will be a figure between £220 and £550 per event. Which York’s student Union says will make it less commercially viable to run the night in the first place.
Kallum Taylor, YUSU President, told Nouse, “If the levy was to cover campus – then there’d have to be some serious adjustment to keep the bars afloat. The financial implications of it are huge – not just for YUSU bars, but also for V-Bar, D-Bar and the Edge.
“Our surpluses on our bars are not generous, which is a good thing, as we see them as services rather than money spinners, and this could seriously threaten a number of them – if students don’t want us to run them at a loss, that is. It would be immensely unfair if a city center problem was to be addressed through a city-wide policy.”
The levy has been proposed in response to York’s active night-time economy, which brings additional costs for the council, police and other agencies dealing with issues such as crime and disorder, anti-social behaviour and hospital admissions.
With charges ranging from £299 to £4,440 per year, the levy would be imposed on any licensed premises selling alcohol between midnight and 6am, including late night bars popular with students in town, all YUSU-endorsed clubs and now the Unions bars on campus.
Licensees in York have not welcomed the proposals, and criticized the council for levelling the blame at them.
In response to the proposed levy in town, Adele Lord, Senior General Manager at Tokyo told Nouse, “It all depends on what time they decide to implement the late night levy.
“If they set the levy at 2-3 am, I don’t think there’ll be any clubs left in the UK after about two years.
The consultation on the issue will end on October 31, and a decision will be made in December.
Asked if YUSU believed the levy might result in campus bars closing Taylor responded, “In the worst case scenario, in terms of adapting, we can’t rule anything out.
“We completely understand the reasons behind the late license levy – but if it was to also cover campus bars then it’d really feel like too blunt an instrument. The demands of public services on campus are nowhere the near the scale of those off it – and we’ll be making that case as much as we can. We’ve solid relations with the City Council and I hope that they give our concerns some serious attention.”