Oldham orders licence reviews for 22 pubs and clubs

09 April 2009 by
Oldham orders licence reviews for 22 pubs and clubs

Oldham Council's move to order licence reviews of all 22 pubs and clubs in the centre of town has been described as "beyond belief".

The authority has proposed the introduction of stringent new conditions for licensed operators in the Yorkshire Street area, following a number of incidents of disorder.

These include making venues pay for police, banning customers ordering more than two drinks per visit to the bar and having an orderly "post office-style" queuing system.

Craig Baylis, partner at law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner, hit out at the move. "It is beyond belief and flies in the face of the guidance on the way the Licensing Act is supposed to be used," he told Caterersearch. "It is just an excuse to get standard conditions, which were never supposed to be part of the Act."

Under the Licensing Act (2003), a licensing authority has to produce evidence that an operator is contributing significantly to crime and disorder in order to justify a review.

"Is Oldham going to produce evidence that each of the 22 are contributing significantly?" asked Baylis. "I doubt it."

At least two operators affected by the move are believed to be considering a judicial review of the decision.

The British Beer & Pub Association said it was supportive of Oldham's overall objectives, but raised questions over whether the council has the power to take blanket action.

But councillor Mark Alcock, member for environment at Oldham, said it was a "sensible solution" to ensure all bars and clubs in the town centre are able to operate on a level playing field and do not feel forced to adopt more and more extreme pricing.

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By Daniel Thomas

E-mail your comments to Daniel Thomas here.

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