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Government plans licensing law shake-up

28 July 2010 by

Local residents will be able to object to pubs even if they do not live in the immediate vicinity or if they believe they are having an adverse effect on public health.

These are some of the new powers proposed by Health Secretary Theresa May as part of a shake-up to the country's licensing laws.

The Government plans to scrap the "proximity" rule, which only allows licensing authorities to take the views of immediate neighbours into account. The change means that residents can object if they feel a problem establishment is turning their area into a ‘no go' zone.

Meanwhile, the Government also plans to include public health as a licensing objective, as is already the case in Scotland.

May is due to set out the plans in a speech this morning, and the proposals will now be taken on a road show around the country for consultation.

She is expected to indicate that the Labour Government's overhaul of licensing laws to create a cafe culture has not worked.

"The benefits promised by the 24-hour drinking cafe culture have failed to materialise and we have seen an increase in the number of alcohol-related incidents and drink-fuelled crime and disorder," she said.

"We know the majority of pubs and bars are well-run businesses but the government believes the system needs to be rebalanced in favour of local communities with tougher action to crack down on the small number of premises who cause problems."

The proposals include:

  • Scrapping the proximity rule for complaints over a licence.

  • Doubling of the maximum fine for selling to under-18s to £20,000

  • Closure orders for problem premises extended to seven days

  • Late night levy to help pay for police

  • Tougher restrictions on temporary event notices

  • Authorities will be able to assess full impact on disorder and public health when deciding on applications

  • Alcohol Disorder Zones to be scrapped in favour of the late night levy

  • Ban on below cost sales of alcohol

  • Increasing licence fees so that local councils can cover costs linked to enforcement leaving premises to pay rather than the local taxpayer.

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