BBPA: Act overhaul would threaten thousands of well-run pubs

By James Wilmore

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Proposal Proposals Bbpa

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has urged the government to "think again" over its licensing shake-up as it will seriously threaten...

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has urged the government to "think again" over its licensing shake-up as it will seriously threaten thousands of well-run pubs.

In its response to the coalition's proposals, the trade group has also voiced objections to the idea of a late-night levy, making public health a licensing objective and allowing health bodies to be a responsible authority in the system.

The group fears the changes would lead to pubs drowing in more red tape and extra costs.

It says the late-night levy plan "undermines existing successful partnership working," such as BIDs and the Purple Flag scheme.

The BBPA has voiced concern about removing the right of appeal for pubs in the licensing process and allowing police evidence to go unchallenged. The group warns that allowing licensing authorities to act as judge and jury would go against "natural justice".

Instead the BBPA wants local licensing officers to be the responsible authority.

Brigid Simmonds, the BBPA's chief executive, said it supported the government's bid to tackle binge-drinking and alcohol-related crime.

But she added: "Fundamental change needs a longer and deeper conversation than what the government is now proposing.

"Some of the measures, while well-intentioned, will have the effect of imposing extra costs and regulations on well-run pubs while barely touching the real problem."

Simmonds pointed out that almost 70 per cent, and rising, of alcohol consumed in the UK is bought from the off-trade, yet it is "licensed premises that bear the brunt of these proposed changes".

On the issue of a ban on below-cost selling, the BBPA says it backs the idea.

However, it argues it is "essential" councils are not allowed to set prices or "cost" at a local level. "This would lead to a hugely chaotic situation and serious distortions of competition," the BBPA says.

It also wants clarification over who can voice objections to a licence, under the proposed new system. The group wants the definition of "vicinity" to be the same as the Gambling Act, which it says will keep the process "manageable".

Simmonds added: "The government needs to think again on some of these proposals and we want to work with them on this."

To respond to the Home Office consultation before the closing date of this Wednesday (September 8), click here

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