Council in climbdown over licensing policy

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Related tags: Local authority, Metropolitan borough

A head-on clash between licensees and a West Yorkshire local authority has been averted after the council backtracked on plans for its new licensing...

A head-on clash between licensees and a West Yorkshire local authority has been averted after the council backtracked on plans for its new licensing policy.

Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council had insisted that all licensees were required to be on the premises at all times to authorise the sale of alcohol.

The policy, which was against the guidance from the Depart-ment for Culture Media & Sport (DCMS) and LACORS, the local authority co-ordinating body, meant that licensees would have been required to close their premises when on holiday - and would not even be able to leave the premises for supplies.

Publicans and retailers had feared they would be forced to be prisoners in their own pubs and had been in the process of setting up a campaign group called Action Against Cald-erdale Licensing to fight the local authority's policy.

However, pressure from the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and LACORS has averted the all-out war between the council and licensees. Calderdale has been persuaded that such a policy is against the terms of the Licensing Act and would be impossible to police.

In a statement the council said: "We are passing on [to licensees] the advice we have received from LACORS and the DCMS.

"The council recognises that neither the Act, nor the guidance, mentions the frequency or length of time a personal licence holder may be absent from the premises and still be deemed to have authorised sales of alcohol."

Martin Rawlings, director of pubs and leisure at the BBPA, said: "LACORS has persuaded the council to see the error of its ways and common sense has won through," he said.

Simon Trapp, licensee of the Fox & Hounds in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, said: "Common sense has prevailed. I think the licensed trade is under enough pressure as it is, without undue interference.

"All licensees in the Calderdale area will be relieved." Rachael Rogers, policy officer for licensing at LACORS, said: "I informed the council of LACORS' position, and it is now amending its guidance to applicants so that it indicates the personal licence holder does not have to be on the premises at all times."

A spokeswoman for the DCMS confirmed that there was nothing in the Licensing Act requiring a designated premises supervisor or licence holder to be on the premises at all times.

Related topics: Licensing law

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