Minister warns licensing overhaul remains a 'priority'

By James Wilmore

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Best bar License The streets The police

A Home Office minister has praised Best Bar None (BBN) as an example of the "Big Society" in practice - but warned a "re-balancing" of the Licensing...

A Home Office minister has praised Best Bar None (BBN) as an example of the "Big Society" in practice - but warned a "re-balancing" of the Licensing Act remains a key government priority.

Speaking at a parliamentary reception last night, MP James Brokenshire, who is responsible for addressing alcohol-related crime, said the scheme had been a "success" in helping responsible licensees and the police work together.

The Best Bar None awards scheme, which went national in 2007, recognises responsibly run pubs and clubs which work in partnership with police and councils - and now operates in more than 100 areas across the UK.

Brokenshire said: "It's an example of the Big Society working in practice, as it's focussed on addressing local issues."

But he added: "It's clear the public do not want to see scenes of disorder on the streets, but equally they do not want policing the night-time economy to detract from other areas."

The minister told guests, which included a number of licensees, the government was "committed to re-balancing the Licensing Act" and it was a "key priority" for the coalition.

"Our job is to ensure local areas have the powers they should," he said.

Other measure the government is proposing include giving councils the power to charge more for late-night licences and getting tougher on underage sales.

But Brokenshire urged the industry to "work with us".

Lord Rupert Redesdale, BBN's chairman, said the industry did not need any more red tape. Politicians had an "urge" to force regulation on the drinks industry, he said.

But he added: "Best Bar None is better than all the regulation that was introduced in the Licensing Act."

Meanwhile, Sheffield's Frog and Parrot was last night crowned Best Bar None's national winner.

Related topics Licensing law

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