House of Lords Select Committee recommendations to radically overhaul the Licensing Act have been broadly welcomed by the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA).
Chief executive, Brigid Simmonds, said: “I very much welcome the committee’s statement that ‘pubs, clubs and live music venues are a vital part of our cultural identity’. Any decline in our cities’ world-famous night life ought to be prevented and the businesses supported.
Read more » Lords: LIcensing Act needs radical reform
“I also welcome the committee’s opposition to making public health a licencing objective. The licensing process wasn’t designed for such a broad purpose and should, instead, focus on individual venues.
“For similar reasons, the rejection of group review intervention powers is also welcome, as we don’t believe blanket conditions on all premises in an area are appropriate — the focus should remain in tackling problems at specific premises.”
The BBPA, of course, welcomed the proposed abolition of the late night levy and early morning restriction orders, but suggested local authority licensing committees needed clearer guidance, with better training for councillors, rather than being scrapped.
It is also against the idea that licensing fees should be set locally, fearing that some councils could ‘gold plate’ their licensing regimes at the expense of local businesses.
• CAMRA chief executive, Tim Page, said his organisation supported the committee’s conclusion that health and wellbeing should not be added as an additional licensing objective. It welcomed recommendations that the late night levy should be scrapped in favour of local partnership schemes, and that councils should not be given the powers to introduce area-wide bans on high-strength alcohol, which unfairly restrict consumer choice and limit the sale of specialty beers.
But he added: “We are disappointed that the committee has floated the idea of additional taxation, particularly at this time when consumers are being hit hard by price increases, and by the suggestion that licensing fees could be set locally, which will result in anomalies and inequality.
“Around one-third of a price of a pub pint is made up of one tax or another. This high level of taxation contributes to the loss of local pubs and CAMRA will campaign against proposals to increase this tax burden yet further.”