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Licensees wait for decision over fees

22 June 2004
Licensees wait for decision over fees

The Government has yet to release details of licensing fees for the Licensing Act 2003, despite the House of Lords decision to pass the guidance last week.

The final figure that local authorities charge businesses for licences will be published before the first appointed day, which is six months after the act is passed by parliament and signals the date that pubs, bars and restaurants can apply for the new licences.

Parliament was expected to ratify the new act this week, at which point the new licensing laws will be set in motion. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is expected to publish the guidance shortly afterwards. This will then trigger the six-month preparatory period before the first appointed day when local authorities outline operating plans, before taking over licensing from magistrates.

Brian Maughan, director of membership and special projects at the British Institute of Innkeeping, hoped the first appointed day would be in January, avoiding the busy Christmas period.

The magistrate system will continue to run for six months to ease migration and businesses have nine months from the first appointed day to apply for their licenses. After this, on the second appointed day (believed to be towards autumn 2005), the act becomes law and licensees without the new licenses would be illegal.

Proposed fees are £100 to £500 to register with a £50 to £100 annual renewal fee. A number of councils have complained this is far too low, with London's Westminster Council, set to be one of the UK's largest licensing bodies after the changes, warning of cuts to services such as health and safety inspections.

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