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Proposals for tough new measures to crack down on problem premises and more powers for local communities to influence licensing decisions were unveiled by the government today.

Ahead of a major speech on anti-social behaviour, Home Secretary Theresa May outlined a range of options to overhaul the Licensing Act.

Measures for consultation include:

  • making it easier for communities to have their say on local licensing by allowing local authorities to consider the views of the wider community, not just those living close to premises

  • taking tough action against underage drinking by doubling the fine to £20,000 for those found persistently selling alcohol to children

  • extending orders that see premises closed on a voluntary basis to a minimum of seven days and bringing in automatic licence reviews for these problem premises – which can see licences revoked

  • charging a fee for late-night licences to pay for the cost of extra policing and scrapping ineffective, bureaucratic and unpopular Alcohol Disorder Zones

  • ensuring policing and health concerns are fully considered so that the impact of licensing on crime and disorder or public health can be fully taken into account when assessing licence applications

  • increasing licence fees so that local councils can cover costs linked to enforcement leaving premises to pay rather than the local taxpayer

  • tightening up rules for temporary licences by limiting the number of Temporary Event Notices that can be applied for in any one year - these are often used to get around the restrictions of applying for a permanent licence

  • introducing a ban the sale of below cost alcohol and consulting on how this can be achieved.

  • Home Secretary Theresa May said: 'The benefits promised by the 24 hour drinking ‘café culture’ have failed to materialise and in its place we have seen an increase in the number of alcohol related incidents and drink-fuelled crime and disorder. 'We know that the majority of pubs and bars are well run business but the Government believes that the system needs to be rebalanced in favour of the local communities they serve with tougher action taken to crack down on the small number of premises who cause problems.'

    The consultation can be downloaded here

    Questions asked by the consultation are :

    • Question 1: What do you think the impact would be of making relevant licensing authorities responsible authorities?

    • Question 2: What impact do you think reducing the burden of proof on licensing authorities will have?

    • Question 3: Do you have any suggestions about how the licence application process could be amended to ensure that applicants consider the impact of their licence application on the local area?

    • Question 4: What would the effect be of requiring licensing authorities to accept all representations, notices and recommendations from the police unless there is clear evidence that these are not relevant?

    • Question 5: How can licensing authorities encourage greater community and local resident involvement?

    • Question 6: What would be the effect of removing the requirement for interested parties to show vicinity when making relevant representations?

    • Question 7: Are there any unintended consequences of designating health bodies as a responsible authority?

    • Question 8: What are the implications in including the prevention of health harm as a licensing objective?

    • Question 9: What would be the effect of making community groups interested parties under the Licensing Act, and which groups should be included?

    • Question 10: What would be the effect of making the default position for the magistrates’ court to remit the appeal back to the licensing authority to hear?

    • Question 11: What would be the effect of amending the legislation so that the decision of the licensing authority applies as soon as the premises licence holder receives the determination.

    • Question 12: What is the likely impact of extending the flexibility of Early Morning Restriction Orders to reflect the needs of the local areas?

    • Question 13: Do you have any concerns about repealing Alcohol Disorder Zones?

    • Question 14: What are the consequences of removing the evidential requirement for Cumulative Impact Policies?

    • Question 15: Do you agree that the late night levy should be limited to recovery of these additional costs? Do you think that the local authority should be given some discretion on how much they can charge under the levy?

    • Question 16: Do you think it would be advantageous to offer such reductions for the late night levy?

    • Question 17: Do you agree that the additional costs of these services should be funded by the late night levy?

    • Question 18: Do you believe that giving more autonomy to local authorities regarding closing times would be advantageous to cutting alcohol-related crime?

    • Question 19: What would be the consequences of amending the legislation relating to TENs so that: a. All the responsible authorities can object to a TEN on all of the licensing objectives? b. The police (and other responsible authorities) have five working days to object to a TEN? c. The notification period for a TEN is increased, and is longer for those venues already holding a premises licence? d. Licensing authorities have the discretion to apply existing licence conditions to a TEN ?

    • Question 20: What would be the consequences of: a. Reducing the number of TENs that can be applied for by a personal licence holder to 12 per year? b. Restricting the number of TENs that could be applied for in the same vicinity (e.g. a field)?

    • Question 21: Do you think 168 hours (7 days) is a suitable minimum for the period of voluntary closure that can be flexibly applied by police for persistent underage selling?

    • Question 22: What do you think would be an appropriate upper limit for the period of voluntary closure that can be flexibly applied by police for persistent underage selling?

    • Question 23: What do you think the impact will be of making licence reviews automatic for those found to be persistently selling alcohol to children?

    • Question 24: For the purpose of this consultation we are interested in expert views on the following. a. Simple and effective ways to define the ‘cost’ of alcohol b. Effective ways to enforce a ban on below cost selling and their costs c. The feasibility of using the Mandatory Code of Practice to set a licence condition that no sale can be below cost, without defining cost.

    • Question 25: Would you be in favour of increasing licence fees based on full cost recovery, and what impact would this have?

    • Question 26: Are you in favour of automatically revoking the premises licence if the annual fees have not been paid?

    • Question 27: Have the first set of mandatory conditions that came into force in April 2010 had a positive impact on preventing alcohol-related crime?

    • Question 28: Would you support the repeal of any or all of the mandatory conditions?

    • Question 29: Would you support measures to de-regulate the Licensing Act, and what sections of the Act in your view could be removed or simplified?

    28 July 2010

    Please note that the consultation has now closed and the proposals in the POLICE REFORM AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY BILL are being considered.


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