COUNCILLORS have not ruled out a ‘late night levy’ on pubs and clubs in the district to cover policing costs.
Under legislation brought in 2012, councils can impose a fee of up to £4,440 per year on businesses which sell alcohol between midnight and 6am.
The majority of the cash would be retained by police to help pay for extra officers, clean-up services and awareness campaigns associated with drink-related crime and disorder.
At their meeting on Wednesday (March 26), members of Warwick District Council decided to delay a decision on a consultation looking into the scheme until a government consultation on licensing fees is concluded on April 10.
In the meantime they have asked officers to draw up a report on the implications of introducing the charge.
Licence-holders in Leamington have already blasted the levy.
Kevin Murphy, of Murphy’s Bar on Regent Street, said: “This will be yet another blow on clubs and pubs which are already struggling to survive. If bills keep coming in more and more are going to shut.
“There are a few token pubs which are doing really really well, but they shut at midnight anyway. The ones that would have to pay are the ones that are struggling and can’t afford it.”
Gareth Beddows, general manager at Altoria on Warwick Street, said clubs already spend thousands of pounds on security.
“On top of that there are business rates and council tax,” he said. “To add something else like this, which just feels like yet another tax, is an absolute joke.”
But Liberal Democrat councillor Nick Pittarello, who proposed the motion, believes it is “right and proper” for suppliers of alcohol to contribute to policing in the early hours.
He said: “The vast majority who visit our towns do so safely and responsibly but having a vibrant night-time economy means there is demand for additional resources.
“I don’t think the cost would be completely over-bearing for those affected. For the cost of around a pint a day we could make a significant contribution to public safety.”
Warwickshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Ron Ball, is backing a consultation.
He said: “I would like to see a situation where normal, law-abiding people could feel confident that they could visit our town and city centres without feeling intimidated or having to witness completely unacceptable behaviour.
“The late night levy is an idea worth exploring and I would support consultation being undertaken around a scheme.”