BRIGHTON'S nightlife has long been one of its key draws for tourists, night trippers and students.

But according to new figures its famous night-time economy might not be as healthy as its reputation suggests.

In the last 15 years the number of clubs in Brighton has plummeted from 48 to just 22.

During the same period the number of clubs in Sussex fell from 114 to 59.

The night-time economy is worth around half a billion pounds a year and is roughly the same as the amount spent on traditional tourism.

But according to the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, late licences are being routinely met with opposition, pubs and clubs are blamed for anti-social behaviour and local authorities have the power to tax and stifle late-night licensed businesses.

Established venues now find themselves at odds with residents, battling against noise complaints and fighting unreasonable planning laws.

It is a problem Brighton promoter Mark Stack, who has campaigned to protect music venues and clubs from closure, knows only too well.

He said: “This is something I'm already working on in a large scale. The economic success of the city is dependent on music and club venues because that is the kingpin of the tourist industry.

“Without it we decline like Rhyl, Blackpool and Margate who all thought their tourist industry could not fail.”

Paul Budd, promoter of popular night Disco Deviant, called for more support for the industry.

He said: “The licensing issues raised by the power of a local resident complaint has become an unbalanced issue. The way venues are victimised, branded anti-social or even somehow criminalised, due to noise complaints or similar has escalated to the point of ridiculous. Threats are made too quickly and too often in my opinion.

“When people decide to live close to established nightlife and music venues they should have to sign an awareness statement, disqualifying them from making noise complaints.”

But Nick Mosley, director of the Brighton and Hove Festival, said the city was adapting well and had nothing to fear.

He said: “Whilst there is some displacement from nightclubs to late night bars and pubs following the relaxation of licensing laws, we have a large student population and a strong visitor economy, with both demanding a variety of evening entertainment.

“While we shouldn't be dismissive of national trends, or lax in our citywide long term strategies for both the night time and visitor economies, I don't believe Brighton has anything to fear in the short term as long as we maintain variety, uphold quality and manage responsibly."