It sounds straightforward. If alcohol-related problems are leading to increased costs in terms of policing and clean-up operations, then why shouldn’t those running licensed premises be asked to pay towards the bill?
Aren’t they profiting from the sale of alcohol? Then surely it’s perfectly reasonable to expect them to make a financial contribution when it comes to dealing with the effects of people having too much to drink late at night.
Only it’s not that simple. You could argue the case for charging somewhere like Guildhall Walk in Portsmouth city centre, where there is a concentration of pubs and bars and trouble can often flare up.
But what about community pubs who don’t experience anti-social behaviour associated with alcohol?
They’re already struggling to make a decent living. It doesn’t seem fair to expect them to have to pay in a proposed new city-wide late-night levy that could be imposed by the council with government backing.
We’re talking about thousands of pounds here.
As Barry Kewell, who runs The Northcote Hotel in Francis Avenue, Southsea, and is chairman of Albert Road Pubwatch, says: ‘We are paying enough already in business rates and council tax and everything else.
‘The majority of us in the area are independent traders, we are not part of big companies which could probably write the money off.’
We support pubs through our Love Your Local campaign and don’t want to see anything brought in that could threaten the survival of these important community hubs.
They are finding it hard enough in a recession where many people decide to save money and drink at home or not at all.
We support the idea of a levy, but believe it should only apply to those areas of the city where there are significant costs associated with dealing with alcohol-related issues.
The rest should not be penalised by a catch-all policy that, in some cases, may be in danger of putting them out of business.