The suggestion is from the Local Government Association (LGA) — a politically led cross-party organisation that represents councils — which launched proposals for reform of the licensing system at a conference earlier this week.
Its report, Open for Business: Rewiring Licensing, calls for a comprehensive review of the system. It said that licensing laws were uncoordinated as they were split across a number of different Whitehall departments, and that businesses and councils were negotiating a licensing system that was “out-dated, inflexible and complex”.
It has also called for new licensing objectives including the protection of public health and for the Government to deliver on local licensing fees.
Rebalance the licensing regime
Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers strategic affairs director Kate Nicholls welcomed news that the LGA recognised a need to rebalance the licensing regime.
She said: “We are concerned, however, that proposals for a health and social objective and increased fee levels could defeat the object of making licensing ‘open for business’.
“We mustn’t lose focus on the primary objective of the regime which is to control the sale of alcohol and the immediate risks arising from it. It is not a panacea for all societal ills.”
Period of stability
British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “After so many changes to the Licensing Act, this regime really needs a period of stability.
“We would have real concerns about making public health a licensing objective for alcohol, even greater powers for councils to prevent types of premises opening in areas, and disproportionate rises in licensing fees.”