Pubs in Bristol are the latest in a string of areas to be threatened with restrictions for opening hours, writes Gurjit Degun.

Bristol City Council is set to consider introducing an early morning restriction order (EMRO) or a late-night levy (LNL) at a meeting next week on 23 May.

The meeting will take evidence from six groups, to discuss the pros and cons of the measures.

An EMRO prohibits the sale of alcohol for a specified period between 12am and 6am; and the levy would mean the pubs and bars that have a licence that says they can trade later between 12am and 6am will have to pay a charge. The council has not specified any particular times.

In a questionnaire from the council asking about the measures, the Pubwatch Panel Group labelled the EMRO “discrimination and draconian tactics against the night-time economy”.

The group, which is made up of eight delegates from the night-time economy, added that an EMRO will see people take their trade elsewhere and could result in higher unemployment.

It noted several times: “We do not support EMROs.”

About the levy, the Pubwatch Panel Group added: “The late-night levy seems to be a tax introduced to penalise traders who choose to trade in the NTE (night-time economy). These traders already pay substantial rates that should be used to fund the resources a LNL looks to address.”

In response to a question from the council about “problems caused by the night-time economy”, the group wrote: “We would expect to see those problems identified and how such problems have changed since the introduction of the 2003 licensing reforms. Are these so called problems a direct result of the NTE, of a specific venue, from a specific group of people?

“Only then can anyone answer the above question.

“How well do the Police and Council collaborate today with their budgets received from the revenue generated from the premises within the NTE?”

John Hirst of tourism group Destination Bristol added that his preference would be to see a Business Improvement District instead of a levy.

A document from Katy Porter, alcohol strategy manager at Bristol City Council, praised supervised drinking in the on-trade and said that an EMRO “would limit access to the off trade in the dead of night (as well as on trade)”.

However, she added that residents should be entitled to a good night’s sleep.

With regards to the LNL, she wrote: “We need to start with ethics. Is it right for council tax payers to pay from the policing and management of the night time economy, and (for some) take the disruption to their lives when the profits of the night time economy are not necessarily ploughed back into Bristol and its citizens? Many of the big NTE businesses take the profits out of Bristol, as they are national chains.”