Two councils issue 33% of 24-hour pub licences

Related tags 24-hour licences Dorchester dorset

by Lucy Britner Two rural district councils have issued a third of the 24-hour licences granted to pubs in England and Wales. West Dorset and North...

by Lucy Britner

Two rural district councils have issued a third of the 24-hour licences granted to pubs in England and Wales.

West Dorset and North Norfolk, with a combined population of almost 200,000, have given round-the-clock licences to about 80 pubs - a third of the 240 total.

A total of 82 round-the-clock licences (including those for supermarkets) have been issued by West Dorset, with Bridport-based brewer Palmer's holding them at 41 out of its 56 pubs.

West Dorset District Council leader Robert Gould said: 'Those who have been granted 24-hour licences in West Dorset are, in the main, country pubs at the heart of the community. Local licensees have taken the opportunity to cover themselves in case they ever want to open late.'

Licensee of two Eldridge Pope pubs in Dorchester, Martin West, applied for 24-hour licences for flexibility.

'We didn't stay open any later over the weekend, but we've got a lot of sports teams and hold a lot of outside events so it was very important to have the freedom of a 24-hour licence.'

West holds licences for the Old Ship and the Borough Arms on the outskirts of Dorchester.

He feels the change is long overdue: 'This will cut out a lot of administration for us and it's about time we had the freedom the new regime offers.'

North Norfolk has 74 round-the-clock licences - with 36 for pubs and clubs.

Six 24-hour licences are held in the tiny market town of North Walsham - at the Orchard Arms, Kings Arms, KA Club, Black Swan, White Swan and the Feathers.

North Norfolk welcomed 24-hour applications to reduce administration when licensees host special events that require longer opening hours.

Licensing officer Tony Gent said: 'If I was asked by licensees what to apply for I said the best option would be 24 hours because it gives them more flexibility. Many didn't want 24- hour opening, just the freedom to choose how to run their own business.'

Martin Miles, proprietor of the Kings Arms, KA Club and the Feathers, holds half of the six licences in North Walsham.

He said: 'This is a new start for licensees and we may as well take what's on offer if we're paying for it.

'Licensees should have the freedom to run their business how they want - as long as they're responsible.

'With the new law, police have stronger powers and I've had to spend a hell of a lot of money training my staff,' Miles added.

Gent said the six licensees in North Walsham were all part of the same pubwatch scheme.

'They had to all apply really, because no one was going to cut the other's throat. It is a level playing field,' he added.

Related topics Licensing law

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