Speaking exclusively to the Publican’s Morning Advertiser following her speech at the ALMR Xmas Lunch yesterday, strategic affairs director Kate Nicholls confirmed that the trade association has set up a fighting fund which will be used for judicial reviews if necessary.
The legislation for the levy and EMROs came into force on 31 October, and local councils could be able to introduce an EMRO from next April, or a levy from June.
The levy is an annual fee which local councils can collect from premises authorised to sell alcohol after midnight, with 70% going to the police and 30% to the council.
The EMRO is a power to restrict the sale of alcohol in such premises for any period of time between midnight and 6am.
Nicholls said that whilst the ALMR had managed to get “the most extreme proposals” scrapped from the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act, they will still take the fight against EMROs and the levy on behalf of licensees.
“We have made a pledge that any council that issues a consultation on the levy or an EMRO - we will respond to that consultation at the earliest opportunity, whenever we get a sniff of it, and suggest an alternative policy.
“If a council introduces a levy or an EMRO and we need to do a legal challenge, we will be doing a legal challenge. We have set up a fighting fund to cover the costs of that.
“We can’t guarantee this in every case because some may not be challengeable but if a case we have challenged goes to judicial review, then we will go to judicial review.”
Nicholls revealed that the ALMR has already had positive talks with councillors in Blackpool who are "actively considering" an EMRO, after pressure from the police.
“We were pushing on a reasonably open door and I think the licensing authority took an enlightened view and one which we hope others would take. It is an example of the approach we are taking which is to work with the local authority in the first instance to convince them that they don’t need an EMRO or an EMRO is not the right step to take.
“The police are pressing for an EMRO and the local authority is actively considering but in our discussions with them it was clear that they were willing to work in partnership with the trade and agreed to consider other measures which could be taken first before they considered the police request. The local authority used the analogy that an EMRO was a gastric band and they would work with the trade on exercise and diet first.”