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Night time levy in Cheltenham misses the point, claims angry bar owner

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: December 19, 2013

LEVY PROBLEMS: G's Bar owner Gary Paterson is against the night-time levy

LEVY PROBLEMS: G's Bar owner Gary Paterson is against the night-time levy

Comments (11)

BRINGING in a levy for Cheltenham pubs and clubs staying open after midnight will not reduce binge drinking and alcohol-related disorder.

That is the view of Gary Paterson, the owner of G's Bar in Bath Road, who claims the measure introduced this week will unfairly penalise the wrong businesses.

Borough councillors voted in the levy as a way of paying for the cost of policing booze-fuelled disorder in the town centre at night.

The tax will affect 218 licensed premises in the town and could raise £199,000 a year to go towards things like extra police resources and council street cleaning schemes.

But Gary, who raised a petition against the tax which was signed by 990 people, slammed the move, claiming it missed the point.

"It is not going to do what it is supposed to do," he said.

"It is penalising bars and clubs which stay open after midnight, effectively making them pay for the cost of alcohol related problems in the town centre.

"But the fact is people can go into a supermarket at any time and buy cheap alcohol – then pre-load at home. It doesn't change that.

"What it is doing is targeting a very small minority of businesses for a problem which is not of their causing."

Mr Paterson was also unhappy with the way the consultation was handled by the council.

"Ultimately it is just about raising money as far as they are concerned," he added.

"But in a year's time how are they going to prove whether it has made any difference at all?

"I have asked that question directly to the council and they have not given me a straight answer."

The levy was pushed through by the council on Monday despite strong opposition from members of the pub trade.

It means most bars and clubs will have to pay £768 to stay open past midnight, while 23 will have to pay the highest amount - £1,493. Reductions of up to 30 per cent will be available to some venues.

The scheme is set to come into force from April next year.

Borough councillors said the move would help to build a stronger community while police and crime commissioner Martin Surl hailed the decision as "right and proper".

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11 comments

  • Hartley2010  |  December 22 2013, 12:28AM

    Take aways should also contribute to the clean up costs

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  • forester_girl  |  December 20 2013, 3:46AM

    It won't make a difference, the culture needs to change. People go out to get drunk now, not for a good night out. People seem to find it impossible to enjoy themselves without getting paralytic. Give them an hour and they will still get drunk, I've seen it happen.

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  • Mr_Pedantic  |  December 19 2013, 2:57PM

    ginger_prince - thanks for taking the trouble to reply. I appreciate that. I can also appreciate that perhaps the Echo has made you (if indeed you are Mr Paterson) look less sensible than they should have. Certainly, some of the comments you have made here are more coherent than those in the article itself. Personally, I would be very happy to see off-licences having to pay a large amount for the privilege of selling alcohol. At the end of the day though, people are getting drunk in Cheltenham late in the night (and well after the off-licence closes) and the alcohol is coming from somewhere.

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  • ginger_prince  |  December 19 2013, 2:12PM

    ...further more when i asked the police in the last night safe meeting about the issues many people have raised about the LNL and it's constrictions their was reply was in full agreement about pre-loading etc yet the response was and i quote "we need the money" so nothing about targeting the issues at all...and that made me angry as i want a safe night time economy as does every one else, but again if we're not all in it together we won't achieve the aims we've set ourselves. Money doesn't solve everything, we need to educate and above all we ALL need to take responsibility when either selling or consuming alocohol.

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  • ginger_prince  |  December 19 2013, 2:04PM

    Sorry Mr_Pedantic i've been within the licensed trade for just over 20 years and fully know who and who not to serve depending on what state they're in. I think you're missing the point entirely as i've never said i was against the LNL just that if implemented it should target ALL those premises that sell alcohol so we ALL as a collective shoulder the responsibility of selling alcohol. Why should a supermarket eg. the recently open Sainsbury sell alcohol from 06.00-23.00pm and not shoulder some of the responsibility. I'm also deputy chair of Night Safe and have constantly asked the council to appoint a representative from said establishments to be present at our meetings and they have flatly refused as they say it is impractical and would cost to much money to oversee! And no i'm not making the claims you suggest all i know is that when i see someone leave aforementioned supermarket and go into the park with a bottle of wine and reappear some 20 minutes later and head into the club next door before the alcohol has taken effect and then see said lady ejected from the staff some hour later just after midnight unable to hold herself up and then vomit on my doorstep in full view of the police why shouldn't the supermarket share the responsibility? The LNL does not take factors like this into account and that is why if anything i'm frustrated as it's not targeting all the issues associated with alcohol consumption...not angry that was the echo's wording.

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  • Mr_Pedantic  |  December 19 2013, 1:33PM

    As has been pointed out above, the problem is of the businesses' making if they serve drink to someone already drunk. If someone has pre-loaded at home and then comes into Mr Paterson's establishment and is served, then Mr Paterson should man-up and shoulder the responsibility for what ensues. It should be noted that it is against the law to serve drunk customers with more alcohol (although it is rarely prosecuted, more's the pity). Mr Paterson ought to read Sections 141 and 142 of the Licensing Act 2003 before getting on his high horse. Or is he claiming that all of the drunks in Cheltenham in the early hours have not had a drink in town at all but are exclusively drinking at home and then coming into town purely to throw up in the streets and have a fight?

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  • Spud0  |  December 19 2013, 12:15PM

    I can't see this decision as being "right and proper" or more importantly, fair if supermarkets are escaping all responsibility for alcohol related probelms in town. Pre-loading with cheap booze before a night out in town is now part of the main stream culture. A minimum unit price for alcohol would be a better policy but that requires our politicians to stand up against some pretty big commericial interests and they don't have the courage or incentive to do that.

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  • supernova1  |  December 19 2013, 11:45AM

    So tell me, why should totally unconnected taxpayers, fund the booze-filled lifestyle of a few? I agree that a night time levy won't stop the bingers and the consequent mess they make, but it WILL pay for the overtime and expenses of those that have to police and clear up. Small pubs like any other business will make a decision, but size really doesn't matter, the bigger the establishment, the bigger the levy, that's only fair. I've been around Cheltenham at 5.00am on Saturday mornings, and the teams of cleaners and the resources they employ have to be seen to be believed. No, sorry, the establishments pay, and if prices have to rise, then so be it. I'm only surprised it has taken this long to come to this.

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  • Tmy68  |  December 19 2013, 11:39AM

    So preloading is the problem. When I was in America if you looked drunk in any way you did not get served another drink. Perhaps that should be adopted here. People would soon learn not to preload if they wanted to spend the evening out.

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  • DevilMayCare  |  December 19 2013, 10:22AM

    So another tax on small business (pub's), which will bring back closing times for small pubs as they will not be able to afford to pay this extra money and so will close at 12 o'clock. I also agree with dibblebibble that in time the council will start spending the money on other things and I think this is not going to effect the issue anyway as Gary said it's the pre binge at home on cheap supermarket booze.

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