CONTROVERSIAL plans to charge bars and clubs that sell alcohol late at night to pay for policing in the city centre have been approved by Chelmsford Council.

Following a three-month consultation, the recommendation – which will see licence holders pay a levy of up to £1,500 per year - was given approval at a council meeting last night.

The late night levy will come into effect on November 1.

Cinemas, hotels theatres and premises only licensed late on New Year’s Eve will escape the fee.

Money raised through the scheme will towards street safe projects such as a street pastors. Essex Police estimates it spends over £700,000 a year policing the city’s nightclubs and bars.

Councillor Ian Grundy, in charge of safer communities, said: “Chelmsford has a thriving evening economy, endorsed by the city’s Purple Flag status, a national recognition of safe and vibrant places at night.

“The money raised by the levy will be used to provide additional projects and initiatives to keep the city centre even safer as well as developing on-going projects.

“We want Chelmsford to be a place that people continue to choose to visit and to ensure we keep the city safe for them and our residents.”