Licensing Act

CAMRA calls for end of late-night levies

By Liam Coleman

- Last updated on GMT

The House of Lords has set up an enquiry into the effectiveness of the 2003 Act
The House of Lords has set up an enquiry into the effectiveness of the 2003 Act

Related tags Late-night levies License

Chief executive of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), Tim Page, has called for an end to late-night levies and an increase in voluntary partnership arrangements at a House of Lords review of the Licensing Act 2003. 

When asked about the benefits and limitations of the 2003 act, Page was generally supportive of the act, saying: “We believe that the Licensing Act has been effective in supporting the responsible, moderate drinking in supervised environments, such as traditional British pubs.”

However, Page was critical in his judgment on the effectiveness of late-night levies - effectively a tax on all licensed businesses in a certain area to cover policing costs. “Our observation is that the main difficulty with the police is where there is something such as a late-night levy imposed on a licensee, which, as a result, describes an imperfect relationship,” he said.

“In our opinion, it would be better if the relationship were a partnership between the licensing authority, the licensee and the police. We've noticed that a number of local authorities are turning away from late-night levies and other cumulative impact policy-type set-ups to voluntary partnership arrangements, such as business improvement districts. We think this is a very good development and one that should be reflected in the Licensing Act, if it's amended.”

The right licensing objectives?

The session that also saw figureheads for the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), Punch, the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) and the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) give their views on the act and discuss the effectiveness of the four principle licensing objectives.

"We are inclined to favour a licensing objective that recognises the benefits to individuals, local community and to society as a whole" - Tim Page, CAMRA

Chief executive of the ALMR, Kate Nicholls, was generally supportive of the four licensing objectives (the prevention of crime, promotion of public safety, prevention of public nuisance and the protection of children from harm). “The four licensing objectives that we have got are the correct ones,” she said. “They deal with the control of licensable activities and licensed premises. If there is an existing statutory obligation [it is important that] you don't duplicate it in the Licensing Act, so the four are appropriate.”

However, Page from CAMRA felt that the current licensing objectives were too negative, saying: “We are more inclined to favour one [a licensing objective] that recognises the benefits to individuals, local community and to society as a whole of having access to responsible enjoyment of licensable activities that enhance community life.

“If there were a licensing objective along those lines, it would make a nice change from four negative effects against which an application is judged. Here would be a positive one recognising that in the vast majority of cases, the addition of a licensed premises acts as a hub for community social activity.”

Related topics Licensing law

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