Trade fears over 'done deal' on licensing

By Ewan Turney

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Late night levy, Licensing act 1737, Late night, Operator

Home Office: wants changes to licensing
Home Office: wants changes to licensing
It was a good, open meeting where the trade got to put its points across but concerns remain about whether the licensing overhaul is already a done...

It was a good, open meeting where the trade got to put its points across but concerns remain about whether the licensing overhaul is already a done deal.

That's the verdict of John Hayes, a member of the Noctis committee and chairman of the four-strong Bamboogy chain, after he attended a Home Office consultation session on the proposed changes to the Licensing Act​.

The proposals include plans for a late night levy, adding health as a licensing objective and giving more power to police and local authorities.

"I felt we were listened to but it is a tight deadline for a consultation," said Hayes, who said each subject was covered off in 20 minutes except for the ban on below cost sales, which was omitted from the agenda.

"We raised the point of why should a good, responsible operator in the late night economy be penalised with a levy because of the actions of a bad operator.

"If the levy was based on turnover, the best operator could have the biggest square footage and be the most responsible and yet be hit with a big levy because there is a small operator in town who is the worst and not responsible. That would not be fair."

Hayes said officials do not know exactly how the levy would be calculated.

He warned that some operators would lose around 20% of trade, including his own group, if they were forced to shut at 3am.

"I think most operators would be OK with a 4am shut-off with the option to trade later using a Temporary Event Notice — so long as they don't reduce the number of those as well," he said.

Damage limitation

The possible inclusion of health as a licensing objective was also discussed and the industry raised the example of how it had not worked well in Scotland.

"The consultation is six weeks and at a time when a lot of people are away on holiday," said Hayes. "You tend to think they have made up their mind and we are fighting for damage limitation.

"I am never optimistic when it comes to politicians and civil servants. Their agenda is different to mine, which is to retail alcohol sensibly — their's is to get votes and keep their jobs. I think there was a lot of truth in that TV programme 'Yes Minister'."

• Hayes said officials want written responses in as soon as possible. You can respond to the consultation here​.

Related topics: Licensing law

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