Pubs' legal rights at risk in crackdown

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Anti-social behaviour, Human rights

Simmonds: concerns over licensing overhaul
Simmonds: concerns over licensing overhaul
Pubs could be denied basic legal rights under the Government's plan to overhaul licensing, says the BBPA.

Pubs could be denied basic legal rights under the Government's plan to overhaul licensing.

That's according to the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), whose chief executive Brigid Simmonds has written to Home Secretary Theresa May urging her to look again at the proposals.

Plans announced last week included introducing new late-night levies and giving local people greater say over licensing decisions.

In her letter to May, Simmonds wrote: "We fully support the principle of ensuring local communities have the powers they need to tackle anti-social behaviour.

"However, this should not and must not be at the price of removing fundamental legal protections that all businesses and citizens in this country have a right to enjoy.

"Whilst we fully support local authorities and the police in stamping out anti-social behaviour, the role of the courts in ruling when bad decisions are made by local authorities or the police is fundamental to ensuring due process is followed and the right checks and balances are in place. It is the bedrock of good governance.

"The proposals to remove these protections from pubs and other licensed businesses are likely to have unintended consequences.

"They place local authorities and the police in a position of absolute power, with little or no opportunity for re-dress.

"These proposals go well beyond the stated aim of re-balancing the Licensing Act. They are a fundamental re-drafting of this country's licensing laws.

"Government is in real danger of swinging the pendulum too far the other way and creating a system where legitimate law-abiding businesses that are an asset to their communities are denied a voice.

"The consultation proposes a considerable escalation in red-tape and costs for small businesses.

"It is difficult to see how many of these proposals sit comfortably with the Government's stated commitment not to penalise responsible drinkers or local pubs, remove regulation and promote business and the provision of private sector jobs.

"It is also noticeable that while these proposals contain many measures targeted at business they are totally silent on the issue of holding individuals responsible for their anti-social behaviour.

"We will be responding in detail to the consultation and are keen to play a constructive role in helping Government achieve its objectives, but I thought I should make you immediately aware of these fundamental concerns at the earliest opportunity."

The consultation lasts for six weeks. The first regional roadshow on the plans was held in London yesterday.

Related topics: Legislation

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