'Booze tax' for Nottingham drinkers could pay for late-night police
DRINKERS in Notts could be forced to pay an extra "booze tax" to help meet the cost of late night policing.
Police want to introduce the Late Night Levy of up to £4,440 a year on businesses selling alcohol between midnight and 6am.
Notts Police say the payment, which could come into force next year, will help pay for policing the city overnight, when the majority of incidents occur.
Club and pub owners say the additional charges will have to be passed on to drinkers and warned it could lead to more closures in the struggling industry.
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James Bellini, owner of Queen Of Clubs, in Heathcote Street, said: "I think it's completely the wrong idea in today's economic climate because it's going to make life even more difficult for bars.
"We already have massive costs with security, which is also police enforced, which we are happy to do but to put even more pressure on us is going to force even more people out of the market or stop people opening up new places completely.
"Any bar would like not to pass costs on but inevitably it depends on what the charges are.
"It will be another extra cost that just destroys businesses."
Police figures show that from January 2012 to May 2012, nearly 80 per cent of incidents in the city centre on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday night occurred between midnight and 5am. Nearly 45 per cent happened on Saturday and Sunday night.
In the county, 707 incidents occurred from October 2011 to March 2012 between midnight and 5am on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The Late Night Levy has been consulted on nationally and is due to go before Parliament in October.
It is up to individual licensing authorities whether they apply it.
The proposals going before a Police Authority meeting next Wednesday will be voted on and their recommendations will then be passed on to the licensing authorities of Nottingham and Notts.
How much each business pays will depend on its rateable value band.
Businesses in the lowest band would pay £299, while businesses in the highest band would be charged £4,440.
Around 70 per cent of funds raised will go to police and 30 per cent will go to the authority.
Steve Westby, chairman of Nottingham CAMRA, said the levy would lead to more pub closures.
"It seems to be yet another form of indirect taxation," he said.
"The licensed trade is suffering very badly as we know from all the closures. This will simply put further burden on the trade.
"Inevitably pubs will pass it on in their prices and this is bound to impact on business, leading to more closures."
Meanwhile pub chain JD Wetherspoon said the levy would not necessarily reduce the number of alcohol-related incidents.
A spokesman said: "We do not believe that we should pay a late night levy. Wetherspoon pays hundreds of millions of pounds in tax and rates."
Councillor Alex Norris, of the city council, said he welcomed views on the issue.
"Our two primary concerns are, firstly, to make sure our city is safe at night and secondly, that we protect local businesses and jobs," he said.
Laura Nash, 30, of Bulwell, did not agree with the proposals. She said: "People will end up spending less and even not going out, so money will be lost in the long run."