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Tighter rein on pubs and clubs
TWO new licensing powers that will allow local authorities tighter controls on pubs and clubs will come into effect from today.
The first, called a late-night levy, enables councils to impose a charge on late night licensees towards the cost of policing, while the second, called Early Morning Alcohol Restriction Orders, gives them power to restrict sales in the early hours of the morning.
While Swindon Council, as the licensing authority, will be able to consider using these powers from now on it will need to consult Wiltshire Police and licensees before deciding whether to adopt a late-night levy policy.
A report on the Home Office website said: “The levy will empower local areas to charge businesses that supply alcohol late into the night for the extra enforcement costs that the night-time economy generates for police and licensing authorities.
“Authorities will need to consult the police, licensed premises and other relevant parties before deciding whether to introduce the levy in their area.
“The levy will apply to the whole local authority area because it is the fairest way for all premises that benefit from selling alcohol in the late night economy to contribute towards the additional enforcement costs generated by this practice.
“Licensing authorities will now have the power to make EMROs if they consider this appropriate for the promotion of licensing objectives, rather than necessary. “EMROs are being introduced alongside various other measures aimed at rebalancing the Licensing Act 2003 in favour of local communities, and to increase the tools and powers available to licensing authorities and the police to tackle alcohol-related problems in local areas.”
But Darren Turner, of Hotel Twenty 20 in Old Town, said he felt the levy would further harm businesses trading in difficult conditions.
He said: “It just seems like another way of getting money out of us. Personally I disagree with both options and I cannot see it being enforced in Swindon.
“We make most of our money on a Friday and Saturday night and, I can only speak for Old Town, I think everybody is finding it really hard. This is just an extra tax.
“We employ four to five door staff of an evening and I don’t think it’s necessary to bring this in. The crime rates are very, very low and everybody is trying hard.”
Angus Macpherson, Conservative candidate for Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner, has welcomed the two changes.
He said: “It is right that those who sell alcohol should bear some of the costs of policing. Half of all violent crime is alcohol related and 67 per cent of violent offences take place at night.
“It is a fact of life that the funds for policing are finite and will reduce over the next few years.
“The job of the PCC is to use those limited funds to commission the best service for crime reduction and policing. “Working closely with our two local authorities is key to getting the best value for every pound spent.”
To find out more about the licensing powers visit www.homeoffice.gov.uk.