A call has been made for a tax on drinking venues in Wokingham after fights and anti-social behaviour incidents in the town centre.

According to Police.uk data, there were 59 violence and sexual offence crimes, 19 anti-social behaviour incidents and reported in Wokingham in December 2021.

Last month, a stabbing occurred outside The Gig House pub.

The violent incidents and anti-social behaviour has led to a call for a late night levy to help fund policing and the council’s own efforts in managing the night time economy.

The levy would apply for venues open from midnight to 6am, with at least 70 per cent of funds raised going to Thames Valley Police and 30 per cent going to the council.

READ MORE: Aftermath after Wokingham stabbing 

At a meeting of Wokingham Borough Council’s  licensing and appeals committee, Councillor Imogen Shepherd-DuBey (Liberal Democrats, Emmbrook) asked: “Wokingham Town has been experiencing a considerable amount of Anti-Social behaviour revolving around people leaving the bars that have a late licence.

“This can be as simple as noisy behaviour and broken glass around the town from people heading home to fighting and a recent stabbing incident.

“Wokingham Borough Council has the power to recover a late licence levy on premises that have a late licence – essentially to cover the cost of extra policing and support from problems that arise from late licences.

“Is this something that we can ask the licensing team to consider?”

The chairman of the committee cllr Barrie Patman (Conservative, Shinfield South) replied that raising the levy would not be cost effective, as the council would have to pay for a consultation and the administration of the scheme.

Furthermore, there are only two venues in Wokingham which regularly open after midnight, The Gig House, which is open until 3am on Friday and Saturday nights, and The Station Tap, which is open until midnight Sunday to Wednesday, 1am on Thursday and 2am on Friday and Saturday nights.

The levy is raised annually based on the rateable value of a business. You can see how much a business would have to pay below:

Cllr Patman said: “If a venue is not well run, we can review its licence.

“However, our statement of licensing policy, due for renewal in 2023 states that a late night levy could be considered if the need arises, so I see no reason why a late night levy could not at least be considered in the review of the licensing policy.”

He pointed out that, since the levy was introduced in 2012, only 10-12 councils charge it, with Cheltenham introducing a levy in 2014 but scrapping it 2017 after it did not receive the funds it had expected.

The council will be hiring an anti-social behaviour team which will work until 2am.

The hiring of the team will be part of the council’s policy to bring public protection matters, including anti-social behaviour, back under its control in April this year.

READ MORE: Wokingham and West Berkshire continue to work together to protect the public in new arrangement

But cllr Shepherd-DuBey said this team would be finishing “too early” as the majority of incidents occur between 2am to 4am.

Cllr Patman said that the 2am finishing time for the team had not been “cast in stone yet” so the committee could make recommendations to how the team operates when details for how it will work are agreed.

The meeting was held on Wednesday, March 2.

In 2020, two teens were sentenced to prison for a stabbing which occurred outside The Station Tap  on April 1, 2019.