LICENSEES in Chester may soon be asked to make contributions towards city-centre policing.
Chester Chief Inspector Dave Hill says he hopes a new law will force businesses to help beef up police resources.
'This is an issue I feel very strongly about,' said Chief Insp Hill at a police forum meeting this week.
'Currently, Chester City Football Club and licensees don't legally have to make any contributions.
'But the new Police Reform Act will mean that they will have a responsibility to. And I think it is about time.'
He continued: 'Chester Race Company makes a significant contribution to policing outside the racecourse.
'They also pay for additional officers needed on race days. Personally, I don't think it is enough, but they still do that.'
Chief Insp Hill added: 'A lot of licensees would say that they have responsibility for people on their premises, but then as soon as they leave they are no longer their problem.
'They would also say that they pay for policing through business and rent rates and they do, but it's disproportionate.'
However, the landlord of the Watergate Inn in Watergate Street, Frank Marnell - who is the secretary of the Chester Licensed Victuallers Association - is indignant.
Mr Marnell, who is also chairman of the Chester Pubwatch, said: 'I have come here to represent 76 licensees involved in Pubwatch.
'We all pay our taxes like everybody else. We only tend to get a lot of trouble on a few of the 12 race days in a year.
'Don't penalise the small public houses for just a few days a year. If you do, you should also penalise the bed and breakfast and the hotels, because they also benefit enormously from race days.
'I pay my taxes and a lot of customs and excise. I want police and I am willing to pay more if everybody else in this room does too.'
Superintendent Nick Ingram, who is divisional commander for Chester, Ellesmere Port and Neston, reassured Mr Marnell.
He said: 'We are not going to target pubs and small businesses. But there are some places in the city taking in big prof it margins, it is them who we want to pay.'
Following the meeting, which was held in Waverton Village Hall on Monday, Chester racecourse's chief executive Richard Thomas conf irmed the race company pays a 'substantial' amount towards policing in the city every year.
He said: 'I will not say how much. I don't think the police would want us to say how much, but it is a substantial amount.
'We were not forced to do it. It's something we decided we wanted to do and we thought we ought to do. We give them an amount every year and they do what they want with it.
'I believe it helps towards general policing costs, as well as the cost of extra officers on race days.'
Mr Thomas added: 'I am not saying that I think everybody should pay. People should make that decision themselves. But everybody benefits on race days.'