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Modernisation of the Licensing Laws

Response sent to the Local Government Association on 17 July 2000 from the Hon Secretary of the Association

Time for Reform: Proposals for the Modernisation of Our Licensing Laws

This Association represents all the local authorities in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight with the current exception of Southampton. We welcome the proposals for reform of the liquor licensing laws, together with the abolition of the current Public Entertainment Licence regime.

A single integrated scheme for licensing premises which sell alcohol, provide public entertainment or provide refreshment at night will:

* encourage the local leisure industry, thus helping to provide jobs and tourism opportunities, and be more efficient for the trade

* give people local democratic control over this significant local issue

* enable the local authorities and law enforcement agencies to work in a more satisfactory manner with the licensed trade in the interests of community safety.

The integrated approach proposed in the White Paper would mean that potential traders will find it easier to liaise with the licensing authorities. Potentially they will find that their local authority can work with Police and Fire authorities to ensure a co-ordinated and balanced approach to all relevant permits and licences for example:

fire and building regulations
police liaison
staff accreditation
planning permission
premises licences.

It is essential for the licence fee to cover the full cost of the service. We urge the Government not to allow the service to be subsidised through the Revenue Support Grant or Council Tax. This would be inequitable and would not provide reimbursement for authorities like Hart which receive no RSG.

We agree that the licence fee should be established nationally. We favour annual fees rather than one-off ten year fees in respect of personal licensing. This would be more appropriate given the obligation to monitor the personal licence for compliance.

We urge the Government to recognise the administrative burden on local authorities involved in the proposals and allow time for a satisfactory transfer from the Magistrates Courts. We would ask that sufficient time is allowed for training of both Members and staff.

Finally we suggest that the proposals should be extended to cover the remainder of the Betting, Gaming and Licensing laws. This would bring gaming machine licences under the same regime.

I hope these comments are helpful. Please let me know of any significant developments in this debate as I plan to report this to Members in September.

Last update: 18/7/2001
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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