Oldham wants Challenge 25 for pubs

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Oldham council License

Challenge 25: do we need it in pubs?
Challenge 25: do we need it in pubs?
Oldham Council is "encouraging" pubs, clubs and shops to operate the Challenge 25 age-check policy. Operators are being asked to display notices...

Oldham Council is "encouraging" pubs, clubs and shops to operate the Challenge 25 age-check policy.

Operators are being asked to display notices stating that the policy is in place - and also include their premises licence summary and council phone numbers for people to call "if they have concerns about underage drinking in the community".

Venues that take part must also keep a log of refused sales for people who don't have the correct ID and "have a system in place to train staff on age-restricted products".

A Council spokesman said: "The scheme is entirely voluntary and was launched because there was support for it."

The council and police-backed "Challenge 25, Responsible Retailer" scheme is seen as the latest attempt by the authority to get tough on alcohol retailers.

Last year the council famously threatened to review licences of 22 city centre bars to force tough conditions such as post office-style bar queues.

There were also attempts to review licences of supermarkets for selling alcohol cheaply, although these appear to have been abandoned.

Noctis executive director Paul Smith questioned the logic behind Challenge 25 in pubs when Challenge 21 is the norm.

"Challenge 21 was introduced for a very good reason. I think those reasons still stand.

"But if Oldham wants to adopt a different policy and everyone is happy with that, then fine."

British Beer & Pub Association northern secretary Lee Le Clercq said it's "unfortunate" that council has "chosen to ignore" the advice of licensees at the last licensing forum about Challenge 25.

"While we might all like to see more of these young persons carrying proof of age cards, licensees and bar staff have to deal with the reality and Challenge 25 would result in too many persons, of legal age, turned away from pubs and bars.

"Apart from loss of trade there would inevitably be a greater likelihood for confrontation.

"Properly managed, Challenge 21, is a tried and tested scheme, approved by Government, for ensuring that underage sales do not take place and we will be having further discussions with Oldham Council."

Oldham to get Best Bar None

A Best Bar None scheme is set to launch in Oldham, the Morning Advertiser has learnt.

It follows meetings between council officials and trade groups including Noctis.

The Oldham scheme is set to be the 100th such initiative to be launched in the country. Best Bar None sees pubs and clubs accredited for steps they've taken to be responsible. Trade chiefs see it as a more positive approach than Oldham's previous route of licence reviews.

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