The UK’s new passport includes a bizarrely error-strewn tube map

A detail from the new UK passport. Image: Home Office.

Everyone loves a good Tube map – so much so that the government included one in the revamped UK passport designs it released yesterday.

And yet, mere moments after images were released by the Home Office, people were already taking to social media to point out some odd mistakes.

The good people at the London SE1 website noted, with bafflement, that Southwark station had not been deemed worthy of inclusion. What’s more, the government seems to be unaware of the existence of today’s London Overground, believing instead that the East London Line (as was) still terminates at New Cross Gate.

A second map, which shows the streets and railway lines of inner south London, seems a bit hit and miss as to what it shows. It includes DLR stations and mainline ones, but not Tube or Overground ones, except, for some reason, Surrey Quays. It also made another mistake which is just weird

(Queen’s Road Peckham is in the wrong place too, incidentally.)

Along with landmarks from around the country, the 34-page passport includes images of British historical figures. But it has attracted criticism because of features just two women, compared to seven men.


Her Majesty’s Passport Office said: “Not only are we constantly striving to stay one step ahead of those who seek to undermine the passport, but we have created a document that marks just some of the greatest creative achievements in the UK.” Which wasn’t quite as convincing a response as they seemed to think.

It’s possible, of course, the apparent cartographical errors were included deliberately, serving as an anti-fraud device. Surely Southwark’s omission can’t be anything to do with its perceived importance?

You can find out more about the new designs here.

 
 
 
 

Two east London boroughs are planning to tax nightlife to fund the clean up. Will it work?

A Shoreditch rave, 2013. Image: Getty.

No-one likes cleaning up after a party, but someone’s got to do it. On a city-wide scale, that job falls to the local authority. But that still leaves the question: who pays?

In east London, the number of bars and clubs has increased dramatically in recent years. The thriving club scene has come with benefits – but also a price tag for the morning clean-up and cost of policing. The boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlets are now looking to nightlife venues to cover these costs.

Back in 2012, councils were given powers to introduce ‘late night levies’: essentially a tax on all the licensed venues that open between midnight and 6am. The amount venues are expected to pay is based on the premises’ rateable value. Seventy per cent of any money raised goes to the police and the council keeps the rest.

Few councils took up the offer. Four years after the legislation was introduced, only eight local authorities had introduced a levy, including Southampton, Nottingham, and Cheltenham. Three of the levies were in the capital, including Camden and Islington. The most lucrative was in the City of London, where £420,000 was raised in the 2015-16 financial year.

Even in places where levies have been introduced, they haven’t always had the desired effect. Nottingham adopted a late night levy in November 2014. Last year, it emerged that the tax had raised £150,000 less than expected in its first year. Only a few months before, Cheltenham scrapped its levy after it similarly failed to meet expectations.


Last year, the House of Lords committee published its review of the 2003 Licensing Act. The committee found that “hardly any respondents believed that late night levies were currently working as they should be” – and councils reported that the obligation to pass revenues from the levy to the police had made the tax unappealing. Concluding its findings on the late night levy, the committee said: “We believe on balance that it has failed to achieve its objectives, and should be abolished.”

As might be expected of a nightlife tax, late night levies are also vociferously opposed by the hospitality industry. Commenting on the proposed levy in Tower Hamlets, Brigid Simmonds, chief executive at the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “A levy would represent a damaging new tax – it is the wrong approach. The focus should be on partnership working, with the police and local business, to address any issues in the night time economy.”

Nevertheless, boroughs in east London are pressing ahead with their plans. Tower Hamlets was recently forced to restart a consultation on its late night levy after a first attempt was the subject of a successful legal challenge by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR). Kate Nicholls, chief executive at the ALMR, said:

“We will continue to oppose these measures wherever they are considered in any part of the UK and will urge local authorities’ to work with businesses, not against them, to find solutions to any issues they may have.”

Meanwhile, Hackney council intends to introduce a levy after a consultation which revealed 52 per cents of respondents were in favour of the plans. Announcing the consultation in February, licensing chair Emma Plouviez said:

“With ever-shrinking budgets, we need to find a way to ensure the our nightlife can continue to operate safely, so we’re considering looking to these businesses for a contribution towards making sure their customers can enjoy a safe night out and their neighbours and surrounding community doesn’t suffer.”

With budgets stretched, it’s inevitable that councils will seek to take advantage of any source of income they can. Nevertheless, earlier examples of the late night levy suggest this nightlife tax is unlikely to prove as lucrative as is hoped. Even if it does, should we expect nightlife venues to plug the gap left by public sector cuts?