Sussex Police back late night levy to fight drink problems

Police in Sussex have backed the idea of a "late night levy" to make bars, pubs and clubs pay for the cost of keeping order at night time.

Government plans, currently under consultation, could see councils impose a fee on venues which stay open after a certain time.

The money would pay for more police, street wardens and cleaners.

But there is opposition from landlords in Brighton who fear they could be forced to pay up to £1,500 a year.

The cost of alcohol misuse in the the city has been estimated to be £100m.

'Disrupted sleep'

Supt Simon Nelson said: "On a Friday and Saturday evening we routinely have 25-45 officers who are solely dedicated to dealing with the issues that come on to the streets in the city centre."

Lizzie Dean, who is chairwoman of Brighton and Hove City Council's licensing committee, said she thought the levy was a good idea as long as it did not affect the night-time community.

"I think that it would be very well received by the local residents. They've had a disrupted sleep and the effects of anti-social behaviour through drunkenness for many years now," she said.

"But that said, the night-time economy is a very important part of the Brighton offer. It employs a huge number of people and we wouldn't want to be putting people's jobs at risk unnecessarily if we came out with a decision before it had been thoroughly thought out and debated."

'Door security'

Joe O'Riordan, of the Licensed Hospitality Business Group in Sussex, said he was against the plan.

He said: "Already pubs pay much higher business rates then other premises. Over the last 10 years the licensed trade has effectively been policing itself itself with the door security on pubs throughout the UK."

A Home Office spokeswoman encouraged people to take part in the consultation.

"Alcohol-related crime and disorder is a problem for many of our communities," she said. "These new measures give power back to local areas so they can respond to their individual needs.

"But we also recognise that some types of premises that open late to serve alcohol do not contribute to late-night drinking problems and should not be unduly penalised."

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