Licensed premises should pay extra to fund night-time services like street pastors and taxi marshals, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill claimed during a night-time visit to Inverness.
Mr MacAskill said the move would benefit pubs and clubs by making city centres more attractive and less intimidating to visitors.
But those involved with the licensed trade in the city said the minister’s desire for an extra tax on pubs was targeting the wrong group.
They claim people are getting drunk at home on cheap alcohol from supermarkets before heading to the pub.
Mr MacAskill was in Inverness on Friday night to meet the new street pastors, who patrol the city centre at weekends to help those affected by alcohol or drugs.
The minister said they were doing “a fantastic job”.
Street pastor co-ordinator Mark Hadfield, of Inverness Community Church, would welcome a charge on licensed premises to help fund the pastors’ work.
He said: “Funding is always a big issue. We have some funding from the churches to help in the day-to-day running. But we could do with additional funding.
“We have a funding application to the Common Good Fund which would help us.”
• Full story at the Aberdeen Press & Journal.