A pub industry body is gearing up to fight proposed changes to licensing laws that would see councils given the power to ban 24-hour licences.
Licensing minister Gerry Sutcliffe announced last week that councils would be given the power to impose blanket bans on the sale of alcohol between 3am and 6am in entire streets or city centres if they could not identify which premises were responsible for anti-social behaviour.
The announcement follows Prime Minister Gordon Brown's comments in his speech to last year's Labour Party Conference that 24-hour drinking was "not working".
But Nick Bish, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) said he planned to opposed the move amid fears that it could open the door to further changes to licensing laws in the future and because it was unfair to licensed premises that were not responsible for disorder.
"If I don't oppose it now in principle, someone might come along in a couple of years' time to move the hours. Why have the principles that they thought were good when they introduced the Licensing Act stopped being good now?" Bish asked.
The new powers are set to be brought in through the Crime and Security Bill, a move which was due to be debated in Parliament on Wednesday this week. Although there has not been a consultation on the proposed amendment, the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) indicated that there would be a full consultation on the secondary legislation that the amendment creates if it is voted through.
But other pub groups were less concerned by the legal changes. A British Beer and Pub Assocation spokesman said: "Our bottom line assessment is that it is highly improbable that this would affect any pub whatsoever and therefore from a pub perspective we don't see this as an enormous issue at all."
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