ALMR: councils will become judge, jury and executioner

By Ewan Turney

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Licensing authorities Social responsibility Court License

Nicholls: concerns over licensing changes
Nicholls: concerns over licensing changes
Licensing authorities will be judge, jury and executioner under proposed changes to the Licensing Act. That's the warning from the Association of...

Licensing authorities will be judge, jury and executioner under proposed changes to the Licensing Act.

That's the warning from the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) after the publication of the Social Responsibility and Police Bill​ yesterday.

The Bill makes licensing authorities a responsible authority, giving them the power to object to licences directly.

"Allowing licensing authorities to become responsible authorities will make them judge and jury in licensing cases," said ALMR head of communications Kate Nicholls.

"It is vital therefore that the requirement to produce robust evidence that their actions are appropriate is retained — particularly in respect of new powers to remove permissions from existing operators and early morning closure orders — in order ensure that these are targeted on problem premises as pledged in the Coalition Agreement.

"As currently drafted, the Bill goes far further and would affect all businesses, regardless of their business practice.

"Currently we remain concerned that there are insufficient checks and balances in place to ensure that the views of a highly vocal majority do not ride roughshod over those of the silent majority of residents — for whom the pub is the cornerstone of their local community.

"Ministers may try to present these proposals as a rebalancing, but unless handled carefully these new powers will simply create a new imbalance — and it is the responsible majority of drinkers and the legitimate businesses who serve them who will pay the price."

She added: "Politicians must remember that pubs and bars are part of the solution, not the problem.

"Not just because we are highly regulated — meaning consumption is always supervised and managed — but also because we are a key part of the economy, valuable wealth and job creators."

The ALMR also voiced concerns over the exclusion of the promised below cost ban on alcohol sales in supermarkets from the Bill.

"Failure to tackle the pocket money prices which fuel irresponsible consumption remains the major gap in the policy framework," said Nicholls.

"The response from the Home Office falls well short of that and leaves the off trade totally unregulated.

"It is time for the Home Secretary to face up to the supermarkets and outlaw their irresponsible behaviour instead of piling the pressure on already hard-pressed pubs."

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