More councils say licensees must be present at all times'

Related tags Personal licence holder License West yorkshire

by Ewan Turney Irate licensees in North Norfolk and Huntingdon have reported that their councils have adopted a similar stance to Calderdale Council...

by Ewan Turney

Irate licensees in North Norfolk and Huntingdon have reported that their councils have adopted a similar stance to Calderdale Council in West Yorkshire in insisting that a personal licence holder be present every time an alcoholic drink is served.

David Watts of the King's Head in Letheringsett described North Norfolk council's policy as "ludicrous".

"We already work three times as many hours as our staff are allowed to and don't make the minimum wage," said David Watts of the King's Head in Letheringsett. "We never go to bed the same day as we got up and now they are saying we can't have any time off. It is totally and utterly demoralising."

In the summer, the King's Head is a haven for the region's tourists and serves more than 300 meals a week. "We need a day off and can't afford to take on another member of staff with a personal licence, so why don't we just shut one Monday every month?" said Watts. "The tourists would have nowhere to go and eat but let's see what the council thinks about that."

Watts also said he was being subjected to a number of other "ridiculous" conditions from the council. He can't direct people to a nearby pub that may be open later and he has to discourage the buying of rounds. "We're getting a sign made up saying customers are encouraged to buy in squares'."

Tony Gent of North Norfolk council said: "We do believe there is an implicit need for a personal licence holder at all times to authorise the sale of alcohol. However, we are putting an alternative to the licensing committee, for forwarding to full council, that we change this to strongly advise a personal licence holder to be present at all times, but we will be watching and waiting for guidance from above."

In Huntingdon, licensee John Franklin of the Dragoon said the policy would cause real problems for anyone trying to go about their daily business.

"In the evening I am usually here but during the day I have to go to the shops and the bank, see the accountant and carry out all the normal practices of running a small business," he said.

Huntingdon licensing officer Greg Peak added: "We are erring on the side of caution. Ultimately the courts will decide."

Legal expert Peter Coulson:

"It is a major issue but it is clear that nothing has changed from today's situation. A designated premises supervisor or a personal licence holder can delegate his personal responsibility by authorising a member of staff to make sales on his behalf while he is not present."

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