Noctis blasts licensing reforms

By Ewan Turney

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Late night License

Noctis: will supermarkets be covered by late night levy?
Noctis: will supermarkets be covered by late night levy?
Late night trade group Noctis said it has "major issues" with the way the Government's licensing consultation has been conducted, believing it has...

Late night trade group Noctis said it has "major issues" with the way the Government's licensing consultation has been conducted, believing it has been compromised to fit in with an "overly ambitious parliamentary timetable".

The trade body, which represents late night bars and clubs, stressed it was no coincidence that the other two pieces of legislation to breach the Better Regulation principles of a 12-week consultation had been the "flawed" Alcohol Disorder Zones and the Mandatory Code.

Noctis blasted the late night levy as lacking in practical sense, disproportionate and unfair.

"We are thoroughly opposed in principle to a universal levy," it said, suggesting that schemes such as Business Improvement Districts and Best Bar None have a proven track record of reducing disorder.

"It is clear that our members who operate in the late night sector already pay a large amount in business rates to be able to operate.

"We believe that it is disproportionate to charge an additional fee when the costs are already extremely high. This in effect means that our members must pay twice. This is certainly not something which those businesses operating in the daytime economy would be asked to do.

"Our members run legitimate (highly scrutinised) businesses, they employ people in much-needed jobs, they pay rates and taxes and should, we believe, not be disproportionately burdened merely because of the hours to which they operate."

Size not the issue

If the levy was to come into force, Noctis argues that responsible venues — those with Purple Flag or Best Bar None accreditation — should be exempted and that rateable value was not a good basis for the charge.

"Clearly the size of the venue is not an automatic indicator of the level of disturbance. On the contrary. Many police officers we deal with would admit that the most responsible venues are large, late night venues."

It also questioned why more police were needed at a time when there are fewer venues to police because of the economic downturn.

"Why then should the police be given more money to police a declining market," it said. "This makes little practical sense."

It added: "One final point we would like to add is that many late licences are with supermarkets. Would the levy be equally applied to these premises?

"We would strongly suggest that if our members in a highly regulated environment, must pay (when both the sale and consumption are mediated) then supermarkets should also pay their share."

Noctis on...

Making licensing authority a responsible authority: "It effectively means that licensing authorities act as judge and jury in licensing proceedings. This on the face of it goes against the International Court on Human Rights principles for a fair trial."

Including health as a licensing objective:​ "Their involvement would almost certainly lead to additional licence conditions. If experience to date is accurate, these conditions would be both unnecessary and carry a heavy compliance cost. This is precisely the sort of disproportionate, unnecessary bureaucracy Noctis would expect the Coalition to oppose."

Licensing authority decision applying immediately:​ "The effect would be to put a lot of people immediately out of work. It is business critical that operators should be allowed to trade under appeal. If this is not the case then industry will cut investment - given the increased regulatory risk."

Extending Early Morning Restriction Orders:​ "If Early Morning Restriction Orders (EMROs) were aimed at a series of premises (whether good, bad or indifferent) then the only effect is to punish the good operator."

Impact Assessment:​ "The Coalition Government rightly criticised the previous Government's actions in delivering the Mandatory Code, yet at the same time has proposed a considerably more far-reaching consultation with much greater haste."

Related topics Licensing law

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