Blog: Chris MercerAlcohol Licensing - Local laws for local people

Chris Mercer | 28 July 2010

The UK Government is going to put alcohol licensing laws in the hands of common men and women who form the fabric of society. 

That is, local communities will have the power to do what the Government wants them to do.

And that means restrictions on the number of alcohol licences served up in any one local authority, as well as restrictions on opening times and a possible "late night levy" for bars wishing to stay open later.

Home secretary Theresa May sternly announced today (28 July) that local people will have a "proper say" over licensing in their areas. It turns out that people will be able to write letters to their local authority's licensing board. Letters! Just imagine...

Licensing boards are, of course, already capable of withholding and withdrawing alcohol licenses - as well as, I imagine, receiving letters.

The subtext to May's announcement, then, is that the lazy licensing boards haven't been doing a very good job. The same goes for the police, who have not always taken antisocial behaviour "seriously enough", May added.

Then there's the conflict within the Government's own thinking, which sets its ideal of choice against the fretful middle classes that form the backbone of its political support. Many of these were horrified to see the last Government opening the gates to 24-hour drinking culture by relaxing the licensing rules - after all, just think of all those people guzzling booze 24 hours-a-day!

"We want to help people to take responsibility for their own lives, but, for goodness sake, they have to be told when and where to exercise that responsibility," seems to be the mantra.

Er, right.


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