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Government slammed over failed handling of licensing regime

17 March 2006
Government slammed over failed handling of licensing regime

An influential group of MPs has slammed the government's handling of the introduction of last year's new licensing regime in England and Wales.

In a report published today, the select committee on Re-licensing claims the Department for Culture, Media and Sport failed the industry in its management of the new drinking laws.

The group said the late publication of regulations and guidance was unacceptable, calling them confusing and contradictory.

It also highlighted a lack of support from central government as councils wrestled with the complex new system.

The Office for the Deputy Prime Minister was attacked for giving "no visible" assistance to local authorities during the period.

Damningly, the committee concluded that the regulatory burden had increased for all under the new system - counter to the original "light touch" aim of reform.

The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers chief executive, Nick Bish, said of the report: "This was a complex piece of legislation and the Government let us down by failing to provide clear, timely advice."

Bish welcomed the report's call for greater leniency for minor errors on application forms, and greater consistency in the way councils interpret and administer the act.

By Chris Druce

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