PUBS, clubs and bars adamantly oppose council plans to make them pay to help clean up the mess left by the city’s revellers, a consultation has revealed.
However, residents have registered their support for the proposals, which would see Chelmsford become one of the first authorities in the UK to “tax” owners of pubs, nightclubs and other licensed premises, such as supermarkets.
Chelmsford City Council published the consultation results, which could see license holders pay a levy of up to £1,439 per year. The finer details are still being considered. It would mean those who benefit financially from Chelmsford’s night time economy would contribute towards its policing and other community safety initiatives.
Cinemas, theatres, hotels and premises only licensed later than midnight on New Year’s Eve would escape the fees.
But the city’s pubs and bars are not happy. Mark Brown, head of legal and licensing for Admiral Taverns, who own the Rising Sun pub, in London Road, said the levy fails to deal with the issues of the night time economy and crime in the area.
He said: “We have very real concerns as to how such a levy will impact upon the business.”
Iain Wallace, who is the license holder at Chelmsford Golf Club, said: “As a members sports club and non-profit making company, any additional charges are not welcome.
“We are not open after 1am, apart from maybe three occasions per year and we would object to paying £15 per week.”
A spokesman for the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, who represent 311 premises in Chelmsford, said: “We do not believe the imposition of a levy is the right way to tackle issues in the late night economy.”
But residents disagreed. Lorraine Jarvis, who is in her 50s, said: “I think we are really lucky to have what we have, however there are cleanliness issues in some public areas.”
Peter Parkman, in his 60s, said he felt the levy should be started as early as possible: “Some of the problems created are before 11pm, problems caused before midnight require exactly this response.”
Cash to help with safety
CHELMSFORD City Council claims the late night levy would enable those who financially benefit from the night time economy to contribute to the policing and community safety initiatives.
Essex Police estimates it spends £722,700 per year policing Chelmsford’s bars, pubs and nightclubs.
Officers have told the council they are finding it difficult to fund the required resources.
Nick Alston, the police and crime commissioner for Essex told the council: “I remain supportive of a late-night levy.”
He said all the money raised would, less expenses, be handed to the council for night time economy projects.
But he added: “Academic research has been commissioned by Chelmsford City
“The research is looking at all aspects of Chelmsford’s night time economy. If the academic work raises questions about the efficiency of a levy, we might, together, reconsider the proposal.”