Under pressure from Police Chief Constables, senior government ministers are trying to back-peddle on their support for reform of the Licensing Laws.
The Licensing Act was approved over a year ago but disagreement between government departments has delayed its implementation in full. The Home Office and the Department of Health accuse the The Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), which promoted the Bill, of badly miscalculating the effect of 24 hour drinking on anti-social behaviour and alcohol dependency.
The Act will transfer the responsibility for licensing from Magistrates Court to local authorities with a timetable of November 2005 although applications can start to be lodged in February. Local authorities have yet to be told how much they can charge the applicants. The system is supposed to be self-funding, making neither a profit nor a loss, but most Councils feel that the suggested £50 is woefully inadequate with a figure four times this amount being more realistic. If the government insists on a low fee Council’s could be left with multi-million pound shortfalls.
The Chair of the Commons Local Government Committee, Andrew Bennett, accused those who framed the act of “not living in the real world” The Council’s Licensing Committee is faced with the mammoth task of reviewing all of Brighton & Hove’s 700+ licensed premises.
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Department of Culture, Media & Sport