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A licence to raise taxes?

15 December 2005
A licence to raise taxes?

The Buck and Bell
Long Itchington, Southam, Warwickshire
Currently operates Traditional pub licensing hours
Application for Grandfather rights
Sales overview 50:50 food-drink split
Proprietor Nigel Jones

Did you get your premises licence on time, and were you granted the hours you requested? Yes - we have the same hours as before and stay open until 11 o'clock.

What has the impact of the new laws been so far?
There has been no impact whatsoever.

Have the increased costs of the new licence been worth it? It's worth it on the basis that we don't have to go to the council every week for small changes to our licence, and for us the difference in cost hasn't been large.

Do you think the new laws will ultimately benefit the trade? Eventually, yes. Premises that want to stay open late will do, and binge-drinkers will get used to the hours and start behaving themselves.

Lancrigg Country House Hotel Grasmere, Cumbria
13 bedrooms, restaurant
Currently operates Residential licensing hours
Application for Grandfather rights
Sales overview Alcohol sales are less than 10% of revenue
Proprietor Robert Whittington

Did you get your premises licence on time, and were you granted the hours you requested? Yes, we did, but after a few complications. We are an old country house, and we submitted our plans on an A4 sheet but forgot to write the scale of the plan or to highlight the bar and dining room. Because of these mistakes they were going to turn me down, but I begged my case and it went through.

What has the impact of the new laws been so far? I'm just a hotel that continues as normal. Staffing is the same, and I don't suffer from binge-drinking, as there isn't a public bar.

Have the increased costs of the new licence been worth it? I already had a licence, so I've paid extra money to stay in the same situation. It won't increase the amount of alcohol I sell.

Do you think the new laws will ultimately benefit the trade? It might benefit a few pubs in the middle of cities - but it's not like the Continent, where cafés can now sell a glass of beer or wine, is it? For the average pub and restaurant, it will have little or no effect.

Brace of Pheasants Plush, Dorset
Currently operates Traditional pub licensing hours
Application for Grandfather rights
Sales overview 35:65 food-drink split
Proprietor Toby Albu

Did you get your premises licence on time, and were you granted the hours you requested? We received the certificate for the premises late, so, in theory, we were trading illegally for a few days. I did contact the council to find out what the problem was. They had undercharged everyone 10 and couldn't issue any licences until they had received the extra money.

What has the impact of the new laws been so far? None. We've deliberately stuck to the old hours to keep the binge-drinkers out. We don't want young lads who can't get a drink anywhere else knocking on our door at two in the morning.

Have the increased costs of the new licence been worth it? The whole process has been an unbelievable waste of time and money.

Do you think the new laws will ultimately benefit the trade? In the towns and cities it may do, but in the country it will have little effect.

Holbeck Gyhll Windermere, Cumbria
21-bedroom country house hotel
Currently operates Residential licensing hours
Application for Grandfather rights
Sales overview Alcohol sales are 12% of revenue
Proprietor David Nicholson

Did you get your premises licence on time, and were you granted the hours you requested? Yes. We knew the licensing process was going to be a minefield, so we started filling in the application early - we must have started in February. It was so detailed, it must have taken us two or three months to complete.

What has the impact of the new laws been so far? We applied for grandfather rights, so the impact has been zero, apart from the fact that we have had to pay more money.

Have the increased costs of the new licence been worth it? Although our income from liquor sales is small, the licence cost was based on a means test of our total income, which means we paid quite a lot. Add the fees of architects to draw new plans, etc, and the cost to us was high. I am absolutely furious at the amount the new licence cost. It is a total stealth tax, and money down the drain as far as I'm concerned.

Do you think the new laws will ultimately benefit the trade? It's a hugely emotive subject. It may mean publicans having to stay open later to get the same income, and I'm not sure it will stop binge-drinking - our culture is different from that on the Continent.

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