Speaking to the Local Government Association, the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) public affairs director, Shane Brennan, has warned that planned changes to alcohol licensing rules could discriminate against small businesses and undermine growing partnerships.
He said: “Together the changes to alcohol licensing rules proposed mark a significant reduction in the rights of businesses that serve the local community.
“The risk is that more businesses will suffer rough justice as licences are refused, revoked or have conditions imposed based on assumptions and generalities rather than robust local evidence. Where this happens it will undermine the scope for effective partnerships between councils, businesses and the wider community to tackle alcohol related harm.
“We urge Councils to use the new powers they are given wisely and fairly. They must also remain committed to positive partnership approaches that are proven to make the best lasting difference to alcohol related problems in communities”
The changes that were signalled in the Alcohol Strategy published by the prime minister in March include:
- making it easier to impose Cumulative Impact Policies to control ‘density’ especially of ‘off licence premises’
- reducing the threshold for evidence required to refuse, revoke or impose conditions on a licence
- making ‘promoting public health’ an additional licensing objective
- making Licensing Authorities and Local Health Agencies ‘responsible authorities’ and so able to intervene to condition, suspend or refuse alcohol licences
- encouraging activism on alcohol licensing policy from new Policing and Crime Commissioners
- removing the ‘Vicinity Test’ so to allow anyone to object to or complain about an alcohol licence