Licensing reform passes final hurdle

16 November 2005
Licensing reform passes final hurdle

A last-ditch attempt by opposition MPs to delay the start of the new licensing regime in England and Wales has been defeated in the House of Commons.

A Conservative led revolt failed by 302 votes to 228 last night to delay the start of the new laws until next summer.

Having passed this final hurdle, the new regime will start operation later this month - on the 24 November, as planned.

The opposition parties fear that the longer opening hours the act will usher in will boost alcohol-fuelled violence on the high street; but the Government has said it gives police greater powers to tackle the problem and local residents more say.

Martin Couchman, deputy chief executive of the British Hospitality Association welcomed the decision. "It has been a mess and badly handled, but at this stage there is no point in not going ahead," he said.

Adrian Fawcett chief operating officer at Punch Taverns, one of the UK's biggest pub operators, echoed Couchman's view and said that after much pain and effort the company was now in good shape and ready to get on with operating under the new laws.

By Chris Druce

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