THE public can now have their say on plans to charge bars up to £4,440 a year to cover the cost of late-night revellers in Southampton.
Residents now have until July 31 to register their views on the controversial new levy, which could be introduced next year.
The plans to cover the cost of policing Southampton’s night-time economy were first revealed in the Daily Echo last year.
They have been bitterly opposed by bars and clubs in the city centre, who have described it as “yet another tax” on businesses.
Labour city council bosses and Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Hayes have put together the plans.
Bars and clubs in the city centre that operate after midnight would pay an annual fee of between £299 and £4,440, depending on their rateable value.
They believe it would raise £240,000 every year, with funds being divided by 70 per cent for the police and 30 per cent to the council.
The funds would be spent on street cleaning, improving CCTV, taxi marshalling and running an In Case of Emergency (ICE) bus to help people who are injured or in need of help.
After consultation is finished, city council chiefs will make a final decision on it in September.
It could then be implemented in February next year.
Council leader Simon Letts said: “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 members of the trade in the city centre have renewed their calls on the council to stop the levy.
Chris Reich, chairman of the Southampton Licensees’ Link and area manager for JD Wetherspoon, said: “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.”
Residents can take part in consultation by downloading a questionnaire from southampton.gov.uk or picking one up at the Civic Centre.