The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has called on police and local authorities to only use new powers to impose levies and bans on alcohol retailing late at night as a last resort.
Ministers this week set out detailed plans for reforming Early Morning Restriction Orders (EMRO) and imposing a new Late Night Levy. This includes confirming that if a council imposes an EMRO this will prevent the sale of alcohol from all premises in the affected zone; whereas they will legislate for a series of ‘discretionary exemptions’ for local authorities to apply in areas affected by the LNL.
The exemptions will not apply to off-licences in the affected areas, except possibly where the shop is part of a Business Improvement District scheme or other responsibility partnership.
ACS chief executive, James Lowman, said: “These new powers should be a last resort and we hope they are rarely used. Local people, businesses and authorities across the country are coming together to develop initiatives such as Community Alcohol Partnerships, that are tackling the cause and effects of alcohol disorder. These should always be the first option in tackling local problems.
“More work is needed to prevent unfairness at the local level. Local Authorities are granted a series of discretionary powers to exempt businesses from the Late Night Levy, some apply to pubs and not shops and others are based on responsibility schemes that may not be accessible to local retailers. This is important as there are no rights of appeal granted to affected businesses.
“We are also disappointed that ministers have not taken up our recommendation to allow businesses that choose to stop trading during the affected time window to change their licence quickly and without cost.”
Ministers have stated that they will be introducing the necessary secondary regulations to Parliament in October 2012.