Legal threat plea over licensing reform

By Phil Mellows

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Pub industry, Human rights, Law

Bish: we need a credible threat
Bish: we need a credible threat
The pub industry may have to threaten legal action over the breaches of human rights contained in the government's licensing proposals.

The pub industry may have to threaten legal action over the breaches of human rights contained in the coalition government's licensing proposals.

Nick Bish, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, raised the possibility at a seminar for multiple operators on the licensing review hosted by CPL Training.

Consultation on the Government's plans for "rebalancing" the licensing regime closed earlier this month after just six weeks.

If they become law they will give licensing authorities the power to make their own objections and require them to accept police recommendations. Pubs could also be closed down before they are able to appeal against the decision.

"There are breaches of human rights, and I don't see why we shouldn't make it clear to government that we are prepared to go to court over them," said Bish.

"A credible threat should be there at some stage or we'll be rolled over."

Meanwhile, he urged pub operators to keep talking to politicians and civil servants and try to influence the drafting of the Bill.

Robert Humphreys, secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group, agreed that the pub industry should keep lobbying on the proposed legislation.

"We are in a very difficult and unprecedented situation, but nothing is a fait accomplis," he told the seminar.

"Every single one of you can make a difference. It's not enough to leave it to the ALMR and others. Invite your MP to a meeting and tell them what you think."

Earlier, CPL's director of UK compliance Paul Chase warned that the cumulative effect of the proposals would mean "more licence objections, fewer licences granted, the death by conditions of businesses and a reduction in licensing hours".

"Making licensing authorities able to object to licences in their own right means they will be judge and jury in their own case. It's an astonishing and worrying attack on natural justice."

Among other plans, making health authorities responsible authorities would, he said, "be putting the health lobby right at the centre of licensing", while the removal of the need for public objectors to be in the vicinity of the premises "can only lead to a rise in objections".

Chase called for the licensed trade to "stop talking to ourselves and engage with the wider media".

John McDonald, director of Inventive Leisure, agreed - and suggested that the trade needs to appoint a figurehead who would be a lively and engaging spokesperson for licensed retailers.

Related topics: Legislation

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