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News - 12 February 2003
Are Licensees Sleepwalking into a tax on drinking?
Home Secretary David Blunkett is under increasing pressure to include a policing levy for licensees in the forthcoming white paper on anti social behaviour which would force licensees to pay for additional policing in town and city centres.
Under Section 25 of the Police Act 1996 police authorities can already charge clubs and pubs for special events but there is intense lobbying for new laws to oblige businesses to fund extra policing on a regular basis. The Home Office could try to attach the provision to the Licensing Bill currently progressing through parliament and talks are scheduled shortly between culture minister John Denham and policing minister Kim Howells.
Ironically the Home Secretary is under increasing pressure to tighten laws on anti-social behaviour including drunkenness, graffiti, noise nuisance and fly tipping, at the same time as the government is relaxing laws on drinking with proposals for 24 hour opening. Licensees need to make their views known, either through their representative bodies or individually, at this stage in the debate before any decisions have been taken.
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