Public health added to licensing shake-up

By Ewan Turney

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Public health License Crime

May: leading licensing shake-up
May: leading licensing shake-up
Local authorities will be able to object to a licence on the grounds of public health under a major shake-up of licensing laws.

Residents and local authorities will be able to object to a licence if they believe it will or is having an adverse effect on public health under a major shake-up of the country's licensing laws.

Higher licensing fees, a late night levy to pay for police, tougher restrictions on the use of temporary event notices and giving residents even more powers to object to licences will all also form part of the Government's plan to overhaul the licensing regime.

The proposals, which will form the agenda for a series of Government roadshows to consult stakeholders on, go further than expected with the inclusion of a public health objective.

The Government wants to remove the proximity rule for complaints over existing licences or a new application and allow residents and local authorities to object to a licence on the grounds of it having an adverse effect on public health.

Scotland already includes public health as one of its five licensing objectives.

Home Secretary Theresa May is set to outline the plans in a key speech on anti-social behaviour this morning but she has already said that the licensing regime has failed.

"The benefits promised by the 24-hour drinking cafe culture have failed to materialise and we have seen an increase in the number of alcohol-related incidents and drink-fuelled crime and disorder," said May

"We know the majority of pubs and bars are well-run businesses but the government believes the system needs to be rebalanced in favour of local communities with tougher action to crack down on the small number of premises who cause problems."

The proposals include:

• Scrapping the proximity rule for complaints over a licence.

• Doubling of the maximum fine for selling to under-18s to £20,000

• Closure orders for problem premises extended to seven days

• Late night levy to help pay for police

• Tougher restrictions on temporary event notices

• Authorities will be able to assess full impact on disorder and public health when deciding on applications

• Alcohol Disorder Zones to be scrapped in favour of the late night levy

• Ban on below cost sales of alcohol

• Increasing licence fees so that local councils can cover costs linked to enforcement leaving premises to pay rather than the local taxpayer

The Home Office said last year there were almost one million violent crimes that were alcohol related, with a fifth of all violent incidents taking place in or around a pub or club, with almost two-thirds of these happening at night.

It estimates the total cost of alcohol-related crime and disorder to the taxpayer as somewhere between £8bn and £13bn.

Stakeholders will have six weeks to give their thoughts on the plans and there will be a series of roadshows at London, Cardiff, Birmingham, Newcastle and Blackpool.

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Related topics Legislation Health & safety

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