A public consultation has been launched over whether venues serving alcohol during the late hours in Nottingham should still have to pay a levy.
Nottingham City Council launched the consultation following a licensing committee meeting on Friday, 6 May.
Council officers told the committee the levy was becoming “a financial burden” for businesses such as pubs and bars trying to recover from the Covid pandemic.
It was also impacting family-run businesses and small business operations including petrol stations.
The Late-Night Levy was first approved by the council in 2014 and means businesses pay between £299 and £4,440 per year depending on the commercial vale of their premises.
Income from the levy is then split 30:70 between the council and the police and crime commissioner, with funds used to offset the cost of managing alcohol-related crime and disorder issues in the city at night.
Eligible businesses are those that serve alcohol between 12.01am and 6am under their licence agreement.
However, businesses registered with the Nottingham Business Improvement District are exempt from paying the levy due to the BID having its own plans to manage anti-social behaviour.
Officers said that of the 144 premises eligible to pay the Late Night Levy, 48 were now based in the city centre while 96 were based in places like Bulwell and Clifton.
Officers said the pandemic had put “financial pressures” on businesses and removing the levy could reduce some of that burden.
The council says it had spent the money on sorting out alcohol-related crime and disorder including the appointment of two late-night community protection officers.
Around £133,000 is generated from the levy a year.
Concerns were raised by Cllr Toby Neal (Lab), chair of the licensing committee, that it was unclear where the police had been spending the cash.
Cllr Dave Liversidge (Lab) also wanted to know the police’s view on removing the levy.
Officers said there had not been an official response from the police yet but they will be consulted.
However, concerns have been raised by Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry (Con), who is using some of the income generated by the levy to fund the police’s Operation Guardian.
The operation involves targeting those who bring or sell drugs into the city centre during a night out.
Councillors agreed to launch the public consultation and will decide whether to scrap the scheme in September at a full council meeting.
If so, the scheme will cease on 31 October.