PLANS for a controversial late-night levy on Southampton’s bars and clubs are set to go out for consultation.
Council chiefs want to hear residents’ views on their plans to introduce a charge to help cover the cost of drunken revellers.
But members of the city’s licensing trade have again called on the city council to scrap the scheme, which they say will unfairly penalise pubs and clubs.
As previously reported, the plans unveiled by Labour city council bosses and the Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Simon Hayes, would see venues operating after midnight pay an annual fee of between £299 and £4,440.
It is expected the charge would raise about £240,000 each year, with 70 per cent going to the police and 30 per cent to the council.
The levy would be spent on managing the city’s night-time economy, taxi marshalling, street cleaning and improving CCTV coverage.
It could also go on running an In Case of Emergency (ICE) bus to help people who are injured or in need of help, new temporary public conveniences and street pastors.
Labour council leader Simon Letts said: “We are interested to get the public’s views on it.
“We expect there is widespread community support for it but there will be some opposition from the licensing trade and we are keen to hear their views too.
“We don’t think the levy is onerous and may in fact help custom.”
But some members of the trade remain fiercely opposed to the new levy. Chris Reich, chairman of the Southampton Licensees’ Link and area manager for JD Wetherspoon, said: “We’re disappointed the council and PCC are still looking at it.
“It is yet another tax on businesses in this city. I think it will impact on some people trading and will mean some people have to close earlier, meaning there will be less choice for people coming into our city.”
“We would ask them to put a halt to this now.”
The council’s Cabinet is set to ask officers to kick-start the consultation process at a meeting tomorrow.
Consultation is set to be formally launched next month, with a deadline for responses of July 30.
Details will be published on the council’s website, and be available in its offices at Guildhall Square.
The new levy could then be implemented next February.