'Pub levy has to mean more cops'
A LEVY on pubs which stay open after midnight will only be brought in if the cash is spent on extra night-time police, councillors have said.
Oxford City Council is considering whether to impose a “late-night levy” on establishments in the city.
But concerns have been raised that the police’s share of the estimated £164,000 income from the scheme would not translate into extra bobbies on the beat.
Speaking at a meeting of the council’s general purposes licensing committee, licensing team leader Julian Alison said a senior police officer had warned the money could end up in general constabulary budgets.
Mr Alison said: “The chief inspector has highlighted the concern that the 70 per cent might be put elsewhere by the police and not back into the night-time economy.
“I am informed that, irrespective of additional funds, there are no current plans to increase police personnel in the streets.”
The late night levy is included in the Government’s Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011.
The Act states that, if adopted by local authorities, the charge would be based on the rateable value of the premises and the type of business it was running, starting from £299 for the lowest band to £4,440 for the highest.
Money raised through the scheme would be shared out, with police receiving at least 70 per cent of the revenue, and councils allowed to keep around 30 per cent.
Participation in the scheme is optional for councils.
But committee chairman Colin Cook said the city council would only implement the levy on the understanding frontline officer numbers would go up.
He said: “If we take this levy and we give it to the police, we’re going to expect to see some bang for our buck.
“If we’re not going to see some money going into extra people on the street then we won’t be levying this.
“If you take off the 30 per cent for us you’re probably still looking at more than £100,000 and that’s probably an extra two if not three bobbies on the beat on a Friday and Saturday night.”
He suggested the council and police draw up an agreement stipulating the money should be spent on extra officers.
A spokesman for Thames Valley Police was last night unable to guarantee the levy would be ringfenced. Ch Insp Jim Weems said: “Money raised through late night levies will go straight into the local policing area in which they are raised.
“The commanders of those areas are then able to use those funds to improve community safety, with a particular focus on the late night economy.
“This can involve carrying out increased test purchasing operations and drug operations, through to enhanced patrols.”