MAKING pubs and clubs pay a fee to cover policing in the early hours of the morning could seriously damage the district’s late night economy.
So says former Rio’s owner, Chris Donnachie, who retired at the weekend after more than three decades at the helm of the Bedford Street nightclub.
Warwick District Council is considering the possibility of bringing in late night levies for pubs and other drinking establishments that stay open past midnight.
If introduced, the levy would be adopted across the district although the likes of hotels, theatres, cinemas and community premises could be exempt.
The rates – set by central government – would depend on the value of each premises and could range from £229 to upwards of £4,000 per year.
Around 70 per cent of this would be given to the police – although they would have no requirement to use it in the district or on the night-time economy – with the remaining 30 per cent going to the council for other crime prevention measures.
But long-time licensee Mr Donnachie says charging a levy is the wrong way to go.
He told The Observer: “Policing is already paid for within our rates and contributions to the BID each year. It would be unfair to make us pay another bill and it would upset a lot of people.
“If the council brings in the levy, we would have to find that money from somewhere else whether it be by raising prices or entrance fees and customers wouldn’t like that – it could seriously damage the night-time economy.
“We use CCTV, walkie talkies and it’s hard work from the likes of the Street Pastors and the street marshals that means disruption is kept pretty much to a minimum. The police are usually only a last resort.”
Mr Donnachie believes an alternative could lie in punishing those who create the problems in the first place.
“People know there are fewer police on the beat nowadays so they think they can get away with more. But in my opinion, if someone is caught doing something wrong, they should be punished straight away.
“If they brought in a night court and made people pay fines, the money generated could be used towards the additional costs of policing and would potentially result in fewer people behaving badly.
“It’s about tackling the root cause of the problem not just reacting when it happens.”
Warwick District Council was set to discuss the matter yesterday (Wednesday) but was not expected to make any decision before further consultation.
A report given to councillors admitted the potential revenue from the levy would be “extremely limited” and a consultation process between a council in the north-west of England ‘drove a wedge’ between licensees, the police and the local authority.