CONTROVERSIAL plans to charge late-night bars and clubs to pay for extra policing 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 – will happen.

However, publicans in the city are outraged and have voiced their anger.

Brett Sanders, manager of the Golden Fleece pub in Duke Street, hit out at what he believes is nothing more than a tax.

He said: “Why is it only the people who are open late having to pay it? Why not charge people who are selling alcohol from shops or the takeaways. They should pay more to help clean the streets, too.

“There has been little support from the public for this. We just think it’s very unfair.”

Mr Sanders said his pub would have to pay £1,454 annually.

He added: “A year ago Chelmsford was given the Purple Flag as one of the safest cities in the country. What’s changed?

“There are so fewpolice on the streets because they know how few incidents there are. We all have doormen and adhere to strict licensing regulations.”

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

Money raised through the scheme will go towards projects, such as a street pastors. Essex Police estimates it spends £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.

“The money raised by the levy will be used to provide additional projects and initiatives to keep the city centre even safer.”

The charge will come into effect on November 1.