Trade welcomes victories over late-night restrictions

kate nichollsCouncil decisions to abandon plans for extra late-night restrictions and charges on bars, pubs and clubs have been welcomed by the industry.

Warrington Borough Council’s licensing committee has voted against the introduction of an Early
Morning Restriction Order (EMRO) which would have curbed sales of alcohol after midnight in the Cheshire town.

Woking Borough Council in Surrey has voted against police proposals for an EMRO and a late-night levy that would have imposed an extra charge on licensed premises open late to cover the costs of policing.

Norwich City Council has also announced that it has postponed hearings about three proposed EMROs, originally due to take place on October 21 to 23, until 2014 because of procedural concerns raised by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR).

The ALMR has been working closely with licensing specialists Poppleston Allen to resist proposals for late-night levies and EMROs across the country and encourage local authorities to back partnership working.

ALMR strategic affairs director Kate Nicholls (pictured) said the decisions followed “concerted efforts to convince the merits of working in partnership with us and against EMRO and levy consultations”.

“In each case, we have raised serious procedural concerns about the handling of consultations and it is clear that in too many cases the police and licensing authority are failing to undertake a robust impact assessment to determine the socio-economic, community and financial risks of proceeding. Where they do, many of them are rightly deciding to think again.

“In Warrington, we successfully convinced the licensing committee that an EMRO would be hugely damaging to local businesses, with trade simply migrating away.

“In Woking, the licensing committee rejected a proposal for a levy and an EMRO after we persuaded them of the merits of partnership working, and in Norwich we forced a rethink and delayed proceedings until the new year.”

Speaking after Warrington Borough Council’s decision, Poppleston Allen managing partner Jonathan Smith said: “We worked hard with Warrington to convince them of the need to work with the trade to explore alternative options. By pointing out the weaknesses in the police data – none of which predated 2005 and which showed footfall increasing but crime and disorder reducing – we were able to demonstrate that there was no ‘recurring problem’.”

Commenting after Woking’s decision to reject proposals for an EMRO, Poppleston Allen partner Clare Eames said: “We are delighted that the council accepted our representations, acknowledging that an EMRO would not be appropriate, deterring local business development and potentially sending patrons of Woking’s night-time economy to other nearby towns and that a levy would amount to an additional tax on legitimate licensing activities and fail to target individual premises that may cause concern.”

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