Green council bosses have ruled out bringing in a new tax on tourists – while asking residents if they would support one. An online survey from Brighton and Hove City Council asks residents to give their priorities for how the local authority should fund services.

It says the views will be taken into account when councillors are making decisions about the budget. The chairman of the council’s powerful economic committee has ruled out introducing a tax on tourists. But one question on the survey says that pressure on the council’s finances could be reduced by increasing revenue from other sources. It asks if residents would support measures to reduce the council tax by raising parking charges or introducing a tourism tax.

Max Leviston, the boss at the Sea Life Centre in Madeira Drive, said the move would close businesses and put workers on the dole.

He said: “Tourism remains the main sector for positive economic impact in Brighton and contributes to 14% of this city’s employment. “Targeting the 1.4 million residential guests and seven million day visitors that enjoy this marvellous city with a tourist tax would be an obvious, short-sighted quick win but a long term destructive approach for any council to adopt.

“Brighton’s reputation has been built on culture and tourism and many of the smaller independent traders such as cafés, seafront attractions and shops survive on the small disposable income that tourists have left over once the car parks and train companies have lined their pockets. “Every pound you tax the tourist will result in struggling businesses making more cuts to jobs and eventually more business closures.

“This city has the culture and reputation to enjoy a rosy future as long as we don’t push our lifeline, the tourist, back to Bognor, Eastbourne or Margate.”

A council spokesperson said “The budget consultation is wide-ranging and designed to gather views from residents and businesses across Brighton and Hove on all aspects of council income. We welcome views from those involved with the tourism industry on how we can maintain revenue in an extremely challenging economic climate to sustain the local economy and the public services that support it.”

Geoffrey Bowden, the chair of the council’s economic development and culture committee, denied the council planned to impose a tax on tourists.

He said: “There are no plans to introduce a tourist tax either now or in the future. Tourists make a significant contribution to the local economy and the quality of life in the city and we would not do anything to damage that.”