Tories to focus on night-time economy ‘in first 100 days of government’

The Conservatives used the announcement to attack Labour’s record on nightlife in London and Wales.

The Tories used the announcement to attack Labour’s record on night life in London and Wales
The Tories used the announcement to attack Labour’s record on night life in London and Wales (Yui Mok/PA)

Slashing red tape for Britain’s pubs, restaurants and music venues would be the focus of a review launched within the first 100 days of a Tory government, the party has said.

Ministers would look into ways to “crack down” on councils imposing “disproportionate conditions” and restrictions on licences as part of a bid to boost the UK night-time economy, the Conservatives say.

It comes as Rishi Sunak seeks to shift the focus on his General Election campaign away from the betting scandal that has thrown his party into fresh turmoil in recent days.

The Tories also promised to strengthen enforcement of the “agent of change” planning principle, whereby developers take responsibility for problems that might arise from building near a music venue, for example by soundproofing new properties.

Business minister Kevin Hollinrake
Business minister Kevin Hollinrake (James Manning/PA)

The party used the announcement to attack Labour’s record on nightlife in London and Wales, as polls continue to put the opposition party on course for a historic victory on July 4.

Business minister Kevin Hollinrake said: “The night-time economy is a vibrant sector that’s vital to our economy and our society as a whole.

“We’ve always supported our night-time economy, with business rates reliefs, economic support during the pandemic – but wherever Labour have been responsible for the sector, it’s suffered.

“We’ll continue to back our night-time economy – Labour would cripple it further with higher taxes and more burdensome regulation.”

The review was pledged in the Tory election manifesto, but the party now says it would be launched within the first 100 days of government.

The party said it would “work with” local government and the private sector to make licensing hours data openly accessible so that people can find venues that are open late in their area.

Opposition critics said the announcement was “not worth the paper it’s written on” and accused the Prime Minister of having “no answers to the problems facing this country”.

The offering will be touted by the Conservatives on Saturday as Mr Sunak attempts to move on from the row over allegations of gambling by Conservative candidates.

Craig Williams, the party’s candidate in Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr and Mr Sunak’s parliamentary aide, admitted to having “a flutter” on the date of the election after it was disclosed he was under investigation by the Gambling Commission.

It has since been reported that another candidate, Laura Saunders, and her husband, Tory director of campaigning Tony Lee, were also facing a Gambling Commission investigation, while a member of Mr Sunak’s close protection team has been arrested and removed from operational duties over similar allegations.

Mr Sunak has refused to say whether he is aware of other Conservative candidates or officials who placed bets on the date of the election, saying there are “multiple investigations” under way that are “independent” and “confidential”.

Labour criticised the scale of ambition behind the announcement and said it was time to call “last orders” on the Conservatives.

A party spokesperson said: “After 14 years in power, Rishi Sunak’s offer to voters is ‘a review’.

“On the Tories’ watch, “night fever” is dead. Nightclubs, venues and music festivals have shut in their droves, and thousands of pub landlords have pulled their last pint.

“The Prime Minister simply has no answers to the problems facing the country.

“If the Tories are given another five years, the chaos will continue. Even the Chancellor has admitted the Tory spending plans are unfunded, which risks £4,800 heaped onto people’s mortgages.

“It’s time to call last orders on the Tories, and rebuild Britain with Labour.”

A Liberal Democrat spokesperson said: “This is yet another empty Conservative promise not worth the paper it’s written on.

“The Conservatives have repeatedly betrayed Britain’s businesses, failing to deliver the fundamental reform of business rates they promised in 2019, refusing to reform the broken apprenticeship levy and striking one failed trade deal after the next.

“The sheer number of closed shops, pubs and restaurants in high streets across the UK is testament to the Conservatives’ utter failure to support Britain’s local economies.”