Proposed Early Morning Restriction Orders (EMROs) could mean a blanket ban on late opening across entire districts and towns if the new legislation goes through as currently drafted, a trade expert has warned.
British Beer & Pub Association director Dr Martin Rawlings says forcing a terminal hour on whole districts will penalise well run premises and also mean migration of customers from one area to another.
The new orders form part of the Police Reform & Social Responsibility Bill, now passing through Parliament, which aims to give new licensing powers to local councils and police.
But the wording of the Bill could see councils authorised to impose early closing on whole neighbourhoods instead of just the problem premises the EMROs are designed to punish.
Rawlings told a BBPA key issues forum in Manchester procedures already existed to deal with premises which caused problems.
"If there is a problem with one premises why cannot this one venue be dealt with individually and not penalise others in the same area," he said.
He said he feared blanket opening restrictions could force drinkers to migrate to neighbouring areas where premises were open later.
Solicitor John Gaunt told the forum that EMROs could badly hit hotels and food-led outlets many of which traded through the early hours between midnight and 6am and did not significantly contribute to crime and disorder problems.
"Premises which cause the problem should be addressed not every outlet in one area," he said.