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Pubs to meet licensing deadline but other sectors struggle

05 August 2005

Pubs across England and Wales are on course to make tomorrow's critical licence conversion deadline but other sectors are struggling, according to the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA).

The association is predicting virtually 100% of its 35,000 pub members will safeguard their existing "grandfather rights" by getting their applications into council licensing departments in time.

Mark Hastings, communications director of the BBPA, said: "We have almost completed what has been a very costly and complex process for the pub industry. However, real problems remain for other sectors, such as restaurants, which have not seen licence applications at the same high rates."

BBPA said applications amongst pub members stood at 85% at the end of last week ahead of the 6 August deadline. It estimates 90% of pubs are seeking longer hours, although typically just one or two more hours, not the 24-hour licence.

However, the picture does not seem as rosy in Wales where the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) described the application rate a few weeks back as dismal at just 20%.

A spokeswoman for the WLGA said: "It doesn't look like the situation hasn't improved much, but councils here are being as flexible as they can and many will be opening their doors on Saturday."

Cardiff - with days to go - reported it had received only 650 (59%) of the 1,100 qualifying premises licences expected.

A spokesman said council and Government bureaucrats had failed to communicate the changes successfully. "Many licensees do not realise that their old alcohol licences issued by magistrates courts costing £30 for three years will expire in November."

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