Fears that DCMS will

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move reform goalposts by John Harrington Fears have been raised that the Government is set to move the goalposts over licensing reform as it moves to...

move reform goalposts

by John Harrington

Fears have been raised that the Government is set to move the goalposts over licensing reform as it moves to review crucial guidance notes next year.

The Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) has unveiled plans to consult with interested parties on whether guidance notes for councils should be redrafted.

The DCMS said the review would be 'informed by views from the Local Government Association (LGA), which wants to remove the presumption in support of later opening. The LGA also wants the 28-day objection period extended to six weeks, and 'more effective methods of consultation such as mail-shots to residents.

Morning Advertiser legal expert Peter Coulson said the latest move means 'the anti-pub lobby has the upper hand and he urged trade groups to redress the balance.

Ultimate chief executive Mark Jones said: 'It's very clear that firstly, our view is not being heard, and secondly, the Government is moving the goalposts.

Tadcaster managing director James Crawfurd-Porter agreed that the Government seemed to be listening to other lobbyists more than the trade. 'By the look of it, the Government has climbed down to the Daily Mail brigade and got the wrong end of the stick, he said.

Trade associations, however, have played down the impact of the developments.

Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers chief executive Nick Bish pointed out that the LGA also gave its full backing to the Licensing Act.

Bish said the LGA's proposals would not make pubs worse off.

For example, the presumption to support later opening is largely ignored in practice. And mail shots to residents would be better than newspaper ads, he argued.

Licensing minister James Purnell told the MA that the DCMS would remain 'even handed as it considers the guidance. 'We are not going in with any pre-conceived ideas about it, he said.

Purnell also denied the quick review of the guidance was in response to the tide of negative publicity about the Licensing Act, or the need to appease other MPs inside and outside the Labour Party.

'This is a huge change and you are never going to get every dot and comma right, Purnell said.

- Coulson, p19

Related topics Legislation

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