Trade takes fight against councils to court

Related tags License Local government Court

The trade is taking the fight against over-zealous councils slapping unnecessary demands on licensees to one of the highest courts in the country.A...

The trade is taking the fight against over-zealous councils slapping unnecessary demands on licensees to one of the highest courts in the country.

A request has been lodged at the Royal Courts of Justice for judicial reviews into the policies of Gloucester, Canterbury and Doncaster councils under the new Licensing Act.

The court action has been launched by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and the BII.

The trio hope the move will set a precedent and force other councils to back down from excessive requirements on pubs.

Many councils have been amending their policies following pressure from the trade over the past few months.

But it is thought that as many as 30 are believed to be standing by policies which appear to overstep the guidelines laid down by the government.

Councils have been including requirements such as asking for designated premises supervisors to be on site at all times, and asking pubs to provide fire safety certificates.

Mark Hastings, BBPA communications director, said: "Our purpose is to clarify the role of, and powers available to, local authorities under the Licensing Act.

"Our case is that these policies do not comply with the law in that they are seeking powers outside of the Act, and beyond the scope of local authorities, to establish a complex regulatory framework that is additional to the local authority and duplicates existing legislation."

Nick Bish, chief executive of the ALMR, said: "This is a highly important issue and it is evidence that the whole of the industry is pulling together on licensing matters."

BII chief executive John McNamara added: "We're trying to ensure that there is a level playing field in which licensees can operate within the law."

Gloucester City Council claimed its policy had the support of licensees and the police.

"Our policy was approved by the council on November 25 after long consultation," said Marcus Grodentz, the council's head of communications.

"The three parties [the BBPA, the ALMR and the BII] were included in that. It wasn't until mid-March that we heard they felt there was a problem.

"We are amazed at the length of time it has taken for this to be raised."

Gloucester Licensed Victuallers Association chairman, Keith Reynolds, who runs five pubs and a nightclub in the city, admitted he was "surprised" the action had been brought.

"We don't know what the associations have a particular beef with," he said.

Canterbury and Doncaster councils refused to comment.

A spokesman for the Royal Courts of Justice said a judge would now decide whether the applications would go to full judicial reviews.

Related topics Legislation

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