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Police plan for early hours drinking charge is snubbed
CALLS from the police and crime commissioner to charge clubs and bars for serving booze after midnight have been snubbed in Oxford.
Anthony Stansfeld has urged Oxford City Council to use late-night levy powers introduced last year and spend the money on patrolling venues to cut trouble or crime reduction iniatives.
The levy would charge venues to serve alcohol between midnight and 6am and would net Oxford City Council an estimated £164,000 a year.
But Colin Cook, chairman of the council’s general purposes licensing committee, said it would not be worth it as more problems could be created if venues applied to stay open even later to make the most of the fee.
He said: “There is the potential danger we would get more applications for later openings. “It might actually create a perverse incentive to increase the problem.
“It might work for larger areas with a stack of venues but, given our size, the money we were likely to get would not be enough to have a significant impact.”
The commissioner had also offered the police’s share of the levy fee to local authorities in his letter, but Mr Cook said, if anything, he would want to see the money spent on more police officers.
Mr Stansfeld denied he was trying to divert responsibility for enforcement away from stretched police resources and on to the council.
Mr Cook said the council’s current policy of limiting the number of bars and clubs allowed in the city centre and East Oxford was working.
The levy charge is based on the rateable value of a premises and the type of business run there. Fees would range from £299 to £4,440 per venue.
Al Thompson, owner of The Lodge lapdance club in Oxpens Road, which is open until 5am, said the levy could see late-night venues penalised for staying open late.
He said: “We don’t really cause any trouble anyway. We spend a fortune on our own security. We get taxed enough as it is.”
Mr Stansfeld said it was important for councils to explore all options for tackling night-time economy-related crime and disorder.
He said: “The late night levy can help target those venues at the centre of the night-time economy operations and aid initiatives to tackle violent crime and public disorder.
“These are all too frequently linked with problematic late night drinking.
“But the levy should of course only be used if there is evidence that problems are being caused by a particular establishment.”
His offer of the police share of the levy was to help the councils, he said.
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