DCMS to consider licensing shake-up

Related tags New licensing regime Local government New zealand Dcms

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has pledged to consider a shake-up of the new licensing regime once it has conducted its own...

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has pledged to consider a shake-up of the new licensing regime once it has conducted its own review.

Following criticisms from MPs, the DCMS has restated its intention to look closely at the effects of the new legislation, including "zoning" areas in towns and cities.

MPs accused the DCMS of a "completely unacceptable" app-roach to some aspects of the Licensing Act 2003 in the Re-licensing report from the select committee of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

The report claimed that the DCMS had "severely" let down licensees with its lack of preparation. Among other criticisms the MPs said there was no formal mediation process for fostering better relations between licensees and residents.

Specific criticisms levelled at the DCMS which directly affect-ed pubs included a "disproportionate impact of fees on small operators".

In response a DCMS spokeswoman said: "This is a matter already being considered by the independent fees panel's review and ministers will be considering any recommendations it makes later in the year."

And she refused to acknowledge that local authorities had been inconsistent in enforcing the regime.

"We have no reason to think the majority of licensing authorities are not consistent in implementing the Act and [local authority co-ordinating body] LACORS did significant work in achieving that," she said.

Cllr Audrey Lewis, Westminster City Council's cabinet member for licensing, who gave evidence to the committee, said she agreed with the majority of the MPs' findings.

She was critical of the way pubs were asked to advertise their plans for extended hours.

"This needs to be remedied," Cllr Lewis said. "Ads should be drawn up by the local authority so that they have a uniform style."

Meanwhile, John McNamara, chief executive of the BII, who also gave evidence to the committee, said he broadly agreed with the report's conclusions.

"We went through needless confusion and angst with the Act," he said. "There was no incentive for licensees to get their applications in early."

However, on the subject of temporary events notices (TENs) - which MPs said needed to be reviewed - Mr McNamara said he thought that they were working successfully.

"Most people are choosing to use them for sensible occasions," he added. He also called for "consistency" in the guidance given to local authorities.

Related topics Legislation

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