Posted: Wednesday, 31 October 2012 @ 14:23
Perhaps the 2 most controversial parts of the licensing changes made by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 come into force today, 31 October 2012. Some will say that Halloween is an approriate day for such draconian measures!
Heralded by the Home Office as "new powers to spread the cost of drink fuelled crime", both affect licensed premises authorised to sell alcohol between midnight and 6 am. The government estimates that these measures could generate approximately £17 m per year. Put another way, that is al least a further £17m that the industry has to bear.
These regulations hit all premises supplying alcohol, even members' clubs.
Late Night Levy
From today every licensing authority will be able to decide whether to introduce a late night levy in its area. In making the decision they must consider the costs of policing and other arrangements for the reduction of crime and disorder relating to the supply of alcohol between midnight and 6am.
The levy will apply to all premises licensed for the supply of alcohol between midnight and 6 am
A specified proportion (70% of the net levy revenue) will have to be paid to the local policing body, so it is to be expected that they will put maximum pressure on the authority to introduce the levy! Cynics will say that even with the levy the police will still complain that they do not have the resources to police the late night economy, and will continue to put extreme pressure on premises through the Review process to reduce the impact on their manpower shortfalls.
Unfortunately there is a one size fits all proviso, that it is all or nothing. All the licensing area or none of it. But will licensing authorities rush to introduce this to raise extra revenue, particulary as they will only receive 30% of the net revenue? It is possible that some authorities will consider that the cost of administration will be prohibitive.
Where the late night levy is introduced it may effect many premises with no history of problems.
There is provision in regulations issued for licensing authorities to allow exemptions for certain premises. For example, hotels and guest houses supplying alcohol between midnight and 6 am to someone staying on the premises for consumption on the premises. Subject to conditions, theatres, cinemas and bingo halls may be exempted.
Other examples of allowable exemptions are premises which have the benefit of small business rate relief, and those premises where the licence to supply for consumption on the premises between midnight and 6 am is on 1 January only. Also country pubs within a designated rural settlement with a population of less than 3000 may also be exempted.
Where the levy applies the amount will vary. For example, premises in Band B, with a non-domestic rateable value between £4301 and £33000, will be subject to an annual levy of £768. At the other end of the scale town centre premises in Band E (ndrv of £125001 and above), primarily or exclusvely selling alcohol, will have to pay £4479.
Early Morning Alcohol Restriction Orders (EMRO)
A licensing authority may make an EMRO if it considers it “appropriate for the promotion of the licensing objectives”, and may specify any time between 12 midnight and 6am when the order will apply. This will prevent the sale or supply of alcohol by anyone, including hotels, clubs, and even under a Temporary Event Notice, during the times specified. The EMRO may be limited to a certain area, or certain days and times. The licensing authority has complete flexibility.
There are only 2 exemptions. Firstly hotels guest houses and lodgings where the supply of alcohol between midnight and 6 am may only be made to someone who is staying at the premises for consumption in the room where they are staying. I suspect that very few are so restricted. Secondly those premises where the supply of alcohol between midnight and 6 am is restricted to 1 January only.
Before an EMRO can be ordered, the proposal has to be advertised and a hearing held if any one objects.
This is a powerful weapon for licensing authorities which could have a huge impact on the late night economy.
Licensing Law Specialist
Tel: 0845 003 5639
Blog by Nigel Musgrove
Nigel has been providing dispute resolution advice as a solicitor for over 35 years. As well as advising SMEs and business owners on disputes he also offers a specialist licensing law service. View profile
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