Don Foster MP*


On the first day that applications can be made for the renewal or extension of pub and club licences, the Liberal Democrats have criticised the Government for mismanaging of the new rules.

Commenting, Don, who is Liberal Democrat Shadow Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, said:

Main Image"The Government's stuttering approach to reforming licensing laws threatens to leave the police and Local Authorities in a legal quagmire.

"Councils up and down the country are rightly concerned that their powers are too weak to stand up to the drink industry.

"The cracks are already appearing in the Government's latest binge drinking clampdown, which is set to tackle pubs but bizarrely lets nightclubs off the hook.

"The tragedy is that properly managed, more flexible licensing hours could help reduce the problems caused by binge drinking and alcohol-related violence. But the Government's approach has been mismanaged from start to finish.

"Ministers should urgently consider delaying the implementation of these plans to allow police and Local Authorities more time to prepare."


Notes to Editors

The New Fee Structure

The Government announcement of their new fee structure stated:

"A new fee structure that will enable licensing authorities to deliver tougher protections for local residents against alcohol related crime and disorder and public nuisance has been laid before Parliament."

[DCMS, Press Release, 21 January 2024]

The fees were higher than previously. The press release went on to say that their consultation had found that:

"the control of premises selling alcohol would in general give rise to higher costs than other premises, particularly during transition, and particularly where these were situated in town and city centres."

The Multiplier - 'Primarily' for sale of alcohol

Their remedy - a 'multiplier' that trebles the price of highest rated establishments- appears to tackle pubs but not clubs or other premises selling alcohol that provide entertainment.

The Parliamentary Order that proposes the new Licence Fee structure states that the multiplier only applies to:

"The use of the premises exclusively or primarily for the carrying on on the premises of the supply of alcohol for consumption on the premise"

[The Licensing Act 2003 (Fees) Regulations 2005]

The Government press release accompanying the order only mentioned pubs in references to the multiplier.

Nightclubs and Public Entertainment Licences

Under the current system (based on the Licensing Act 1964), nightclubs must hold a Public Entertainment Licence. This is widely believed in the industry to be sufficient grounds for the multiplier not to apply.

Pubs Serving Food

There is also uncertainty over whether pubs serving food may be able to avoid liability for the multiplier on the grounds that their sale of alcohol is 'ancillary' to serving food.

The Licence Fees Parliamentary Debate

The Liberal Democrats have 'prayed' against the order laying the fees so that these concerns can be raised in debate in Parliament.

This article published: 09/02/2024

Published by Bath Liberal Democrats, 31 James St West, Bath, BA1 2BT. Printed and hosted by JPC Infonet, 2 St Georges Works, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, BA14 8AA. Your Privacy._blank

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