Published on May 3rd, 2011 | by Dean Carr
Peer raises concerns over alcohol licensing reform
A prominent peer has raised “strong concerns” about government proposals over alcohol licensing.
During a debate yesterday, during the second reading of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill, Lord Clement-Jones said he is particularly worried about the impact the proposed “vicinity test” would have on live music. The ‘vicinity test’ allows anyone in the country to issue a complaint against a licence.
Lord Clement-Jones also predicted that the clause proposing a reduction in the evidence required for conditions on licences – so that they are “appropriate” rather than “necessary” – would lead to an increased burdeon on licensing committees as they were likely to be challenged. He also claimed that Early Morning Restriction Orders, which propose blanket bans on late-night opening, would penalise responsible businesses while the late-night levy would be “unfair” to responsible venues operating after the midnight deadline.
Other Lords were supportive of the new proposals believing they would drink-related disorder. Lord Bishop of Gloucester claimed the Licensing Act 2003 did not deal adequately with public order and health problems and the new proposals are “timely and welcome”. Baroness Finlay of Llandaff called the Licensing Act a “spectacular failure” in health terms and she called for cumulative impact and saturation policies to be statutory.
This second reading is the first opportunity for members of the Lords to debate the main principles of the Bill and flag up concerns and areas where they think amendments are needed. Any amendments will then be scrutinised at committee stage.
The committee stage allows a detailed line by line examination of the separate parts of the Bill. This stage can last for one or two days to eight or more. It usually starts no fewer than two weeks after the second reading.
Source : The Publicans Morning Advertiser