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News - 17 September 2005

Government backtracks over 24 hour drinking

Ministers will shortly announce a significant concession over laws to free up drinking restrictions in an attempt to end the increasing public outcry about the biggest overhaul of licensing for 90 years.

The government is to write to local authorities next week indicating that they will meet their demands for an immediate rethink of the official guidance to the administration of the legislation.

The Local Government Association (LGA) argued that the guidelines need to be tightened because the current guidance is skewed in favour of pubs, clubs and restaurants that want to open late, and that the balance should be tilted back towards local residents who object to round-the-clock drinking.

James Purnell, the minister in charge of the licensing shake-up said that the government wanted to be “conciliatory”, and that the guidelines issued to local authorities and the police would now be reviewed within three months of the new regime taking effect.

He said: “The LGA have been central in helping us to implement the act and have been extremely constructive all the way through. We want to continue to be constructive and that's why we are happy to have an early review of the guidance once 200,000 pubs, clubs and restaurants have been re-licensed.”

The government has refused to delay the start of the new laws in spite of a vociferous campaign by the media, but back-tracking by ministers will cause alarm in the leisure industry.

The existing guidance states that: - ‘longer licensing hours with regard to the sale of alcohol are important to ensure that the concentrations of customers leaving premises simultaneously are avoided’.


Read related items on:
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Local Government Association
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