Rt Hon Theresa May MP
People in England and Wales will have greater control over alcohol licensing decisions as the coalition government ‘moves to reclaim high streets for sensible law abiding drinkers’.
This is the claim made by Theresa May, the Home Secretary, in relation to the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill which will give councils new powers to stop premises selling alcohol late at night and punish those that persistently sell alcohol to children, with fines of up to £20,000.
The new legislation will allow everyone to comment on individual licensing applications, in contrast to the original 2003 Licensing Act which restricted the right to object to those living ‘in the vicinity’ of a particular licensed premises. This was one of the most disliked features of the Labour Government’s Licensing Act, because people’s lives could be adversely affected by licensing decisions even if they did not live ‘in the vicinity’ - if, for example, they lived along the route in and out of the entertainment area of their town or city. The new legislation will also allow, for the first time, the impact of licensing on public health to be taken into account when granting licences, a reform for which the public health lobby has been campaigning since the implementation of the 2003 Act.
Drunkenness and violence
Announcing the reforms, Minister for Crime Prevention, James Brokenshire, said: “The introduction of 24 hour licensing promised a continental-style ‘café-culture’ which has not materialised - instead we see drunkenness, violence and anti-social behaviour and too many of our town and city centres are now considered ‘no go’ areas. We’re not saying every pub and club is a problem, we know it’s only a minority that drive crime and disorder. But it’s now time that local communities are put in charge and allowed to reclaim our high streets for sensible law-abiding drinkers. This package of measures will reverse the failed experiment that was the relaxation of the licensing act and ensure local people have the power to make their pub and local high street a place they want to visit.”
The Bill also includes measures to allow councils to:
The Home Secretary also outlined a package of measures to reduce alcohol related crime and disorder.
In 2009 almost one million violent crimes were alcoholrelated, and one-fifth of all violent incidents took place in or around a pub or club.