Licensing review: 10 key points

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: 1945, 1979, Theresa may, Government

Government is looking to change licensing
Government is looking to change licensing
Read our summary of the ten key points from the Licensing Act consultation launched this morning by the Home Office.

This morning, Home Secretary Theresa May unveiled the Government's proposals to overhaul the licensing regime. Here we summarise the key points from the consultation for you.

1. Higher fees:​Increasing licence fees "based on full cost recovery", and automatic licence revocation for non-payment, are proposed.

2. Late night levy:​ Councils would have discretion about where to apply them. One idea is to split the cost of extra late-night policing, and other services such as taxi marshals,  among the affected venues. Councils could have some discretion over how much they charge. Reductions could be available for venues deemed "best practice", such as those with Best Bar None accreditation.

3. Harder to obtain licences — and easier to get them revoked:​ Licensing authorities could refuse, remove or review licences themselves without outside representation. The burden of proof for licensing authorities would be reduced.

Applicants may have to show how they will mitigate the potential negative impact of having their licence granted. Police recommendations would hold more sway — the council must accept them unless there's "clear evidence that these are not relevant".

Prevention of health harm could become a licence objective and public health bodies such as Primary Care Trusts, as well as community groups such as school governors, could be made responsible authorities. Powers to restrict appeals at magistrates are also proposed — the default position for magistrates would be to send appeals back to the authorities. Closing the 'loophole' where licence modifications don't apply until after a review is concluded is also proposed.

No evidence would be needed to let councils implement cumulative impact policies, which let authorities limit licences in "saturated" areas.

Licensing authorities would have more discretion over opening times — and will be "encouraged" to consider methods such as fixed closing times and 'zoning'.

4. Restricting opening:​ New Early Morning Restriction Orders would let councils ban alcohol sales at specific venues to what they think is appropriate for their area (eg: midnight to 6am). EMROs could be created if they are deemed "beneficial" to the licensing objectives — not "necessary".

5. Tougher penalties for serving underage​ Maximum fines for persistent underage sales would double to £20,000. Periods of voluntary closure, chosen as an alternative to prosecution for the offence, would rise from two to seven days. Automatic reviews would take place for persistent underage sales.

6. Banning below-cost sales​ Options include defining an "average cost" and have a new mandatory condition banning sales below the price it cost the venue.

7. Repealing the mandatory code:​ Either all or some of the regulations could be ditched.

8. Tougher rules on Temporary Events Notices (TENs):​ Extending the period of time police can object to TENs from two to five working days, letting other responsible authorities object and allowing councils to apply existing licence conditions for TENs are all proposed. The period of notice required for submitting a TEN would be extended and vary according to the nature of the event. Just 12 TENs, and one large-scale TEN, would be possible annually for each personal licence holder.

Stakeholders will have six weeks to give their thoughts on the plans and there will be a series of roadshows.

The workshops are at the Sanctuary Buildings, Westminster, London (2 August), the Government Office for the North-East, Newcastle-upon-Tyne (9 August), Blackpool Football Club (13 August), the Government Office for the West Midlands, Birmingham (17 August) and Park Inn, Cardiff (19 August).

9. End of Alcohol Disorder Zones:​ The measure, which sees venues in a defined area pay a disorder levy, would be scrapped as they have proved unpopular with councils.

10. De-regulation:​The consultation asks whether administrative burden of the Licensing Act could be reduced. For example, by reducing the application forms for premises licences and TENs.

• The consultation is available here

• Email pctpbzzhavpngvbaf@ubzrbssvpr.tfv.tbi.hx​ to reserve a place at a roadshow

Related topics: Licensing law

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