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Repeal of Licensing Law

Comment 5th July 2010



The Licensing Act 2003 should be either repealed or extensively reduced in scope.


Why does this matter?



This Act has introduced an unnecessary level of bureaucratic interference into nearly every aspect of small-scale public entertainment and has led to an increase in numbers of large restaurants which function as (and in competition with) traditional public houses. At the same time the Act has frequently failed to protect the public from the effects of drunken behaviour, is inconsistent in operation and has placed a significant cost burden on Local Authorities.

The Licensing legislation does not operate satisfactorily in conjunction with the Planning legislation; the latter may grant Planning Permission for a large restaurant with a holding bar, but the Licensing procedure can then subsequently allow this bar to operate – to all intents and purposes – as a public house. This has been to the detriment of long-established public houses (which are often a hub of local life) in some areas. Large restaurants may be granted a Licence close to residential properties, but the Conditions applied may fail in practice to protect residents from disorder and drunken behaviour. 

The Act has also been bad for traditional and locally-based entertainments in small and rural communities, which are almost never a cause of drunkenness or public disorder.

Were it to be thought necessary to keep a measure of control over entertainments, then this should involve only performers who appear in a professional capacity. Local Magistrates, who formerly attended to Licensing matters, would find no difficulty in determining who should be classed as professional in this context.

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