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Simplify premises licenses processes for online businesses

Comment 2nd July 2010

My family runs an online gift basket business from home. These baskets are mainly food, but we do get asked to add the occasional bottle of wine, which we currently cannot do as we do not have a premises license. The process for getting one for an online business is currently the same as if we wanted to turn our home into an off-license, requiring that someone first get a personal license and then a premises license.

My mother (the business owner) has now gone through the process of getting a personal alcohol license. I actually think this is a good idea, as it ensures that someone in the business is responsible for adhering to current legislation and ensuring that all steps are taken to ensure that alcohol is not sold to minors.

Now we need to get the premises license. To do this, we have to publicly advertise our request in the local papers, to our neighbours, fire brigade, police etc. and put a public notice up prominently outside our house. This is in spite of the fact that no customers will be physically coming to the premises at all. All our orders are taken either online or over the phone and delivered to customers' addresses. It makes no sense.

Also, the current process is very bureaucratic, expensive (when you consider the fees involved for both the personal and premises licenses) and makes little sense for a small business like ours which is not looking at alcohol as a main line of business. And we do not want to advertise to all & sundry that we may have alcohol on the premises. The people it is most likely to interest would be those who may want to break in to steal it! 

Surely, for an internet / mail order business such as ours where we will not be dealing with customers coming to our premises at all, a personal licence should be sufficient, or the local authority should be able to grant a premises license without requiring public notices to be put up.

Please do review this, thank you.

Why does this matter?

The current regulations for obtaining a personal alcohol and premises license for small mail order / online businesses (i.e. where customers place orders remotely and never physically visit the premises) make no sense, are cumbersome and expensive. Doubly so when the small business is run from a private home. Simplifying the process (such as by only requiring a personal license in these cases) will help small businesses such as our gift basket business grow without compromising public safety.

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