DCMS plans 36-hour opening over new year

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Related tags: Proposal

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has laid down plans for 36-hour opening this new year as one of its first acts after taking on...

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has laid down plans for 36-hour opening this new year as one of its first acts after taking on responsibility for licensing.

Ministers intend to allow pubs, clubs and restaurants to open for a full 36 hours over the New Year celebrations, as they did for the Millennium.

A draft regulatory reform order proposes the relaxation of licensing hours between 11pm on New Year's Eve this year until 11am on New Year's Day.

Licensees will be able to choose when to open between those hours, although the police, local authorities and local residents will be given the right to apply for restriction orders to limit the relaxed hours in respect of specific premises which might cause disturbance, annoyance or disorder.

The proposal will now be scrutinised by the Parliamentary committees in the Commons and the Lords responsible for regulatory reform matters. They are free to take evidence about the issues raised.

The Home Office, responsible for licensing matters until the General Election, faced tough criticism last year when it failed to push through a deregulation order in time for the New Year celebrations and it is thought ministers were anxious to avoid a repeat performance. The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) welcomed the move. Chief executive Nick Bish said: "The industry proved at the time of the millennium that it could responsibly and profitably handle the flexibility and the demands of up to 36-hour opening during a national celebration.

"Again, the ALMR has supported the principle of this deregulation for 2001 and is now very pleased to see that the DCMS, new in the job, has moved quickly to ensure that there is enough time for this deregulation to be considered by Parliament."

Minister Kim Howells said: "New Year's Eve is a special national occasion when citizens and visitors to this country alike want to have greater freedom to choose how and when to enjoy themselves. The Government is pleased to do its bit to help meet this wish.

"If approved by Parliament, this regulatory reform order would provide those increased opportunities and provide industry with the chance to give their customers what they want."

The move follows the release of a consultation document on the issue published by the Home Office on March 19. The proposals also included plans to relax licensing hours during the Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations on June 3 next year. This will be laid before Parliament as a separate proposal shortly.

Related topics: Legislation

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