Regulation of pubs getting worse

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Occupational safety and health, Criminal law, Law

Regulation of pubs getting worse
Tough new laws and regulation schemes have lead to more rigorous enforcement of pubs, says licensing lawyer Graeme Cushion. Enforcement surrounding...

Tough new laws and regulation schemes have lead to more rigorous enforcement of pubs, says licensing lawyer Graeme Cushion.

Enforcement surrounding hygiene, heath and safety, licensing, planning and even sting operations targeting cigarette and gaming machines is all increasing, said Cushion, partner at Poppleston Allen.

Speaking at the law firm's London seminar entitled "2009 - crisis or opportunity", Cushion cited the rise of the Scores on the Doors scheme, where venues are graded on food hygiene.

Around 100 out of 400 councils currently operate Scores on the Doors and Cushion said: "As local authorities set up those schemes they visit premises to rate them. There's an inspection they weren't expecting in the first place."

He added: "This means food operators can no longer reply on their reputation build up over months and years in terms of their ability to attract customers."

Cushion pointed to the 2008 Health and Safety (Offences) Act, which came into force in January this year and increased maximum fines for many breaches from £5,000 to £20,000.

Figures from 2006/2007 showed just 100 councils secured convictions in health and safety. Cushion warned: "The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) has not taken that lying down.

"It's publicly encouraging local authorities to remedy this situation and take action under this legislation. We can expect more rigorous policing in this area.

"It wouldn't be a bad time to re-visit your policy to protect yourself in terms of this particular issue."

He added: "I'm afraid enforcement appears to be on the up in straight forward licensing terms as well.

"What we are hearing from local authorities is they are getting fewer applications for variations and new licences and as such they are not receiving the fees they were getting. They will be out policing for the opportunity to prosecute; they get paid for their time."

Cushion said the same principle applied to planning: "Minor breaches that might previously have been ignored are being vigorously pursued."

In terms of sting operations, Cushion said: "There are more being carried out now than ever before in terms of cigarette and AWP machines. In my view we now need to approach that in the same way as alcohol and make sure you have it covered in terms of training."

Cushion said he couldn't remember a time when there had been more noise abatement notices issued - the situation is worse post-smoking ban.

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