The British Beer & Pub Association has raised concerns over plans by Camden Council to change its licensing policy in ways that would damage local pub businesses. The comments come in a detailed submission to Camden’s consultation on its draft licensing policy, which closes today.
The BBPA says that key aspects of the proposals would place new burdens on Camden’s pubs, where around 250 venues employ over 6,000 people, generating £700 million for the local economy in the central London borough, each year.
In particular, the BBPA has expressed concerns that Camden intends to make public health its own consideration in licensing decisions, a purpose for which the 2003 Licensing Act was not intended, and which contradicts previous Government decisions.
The BBPA is also concerned about the proposed introduction of a Late Night Levy, which would operate as a new tax on local businesses, despite other councils turning away from this approach in recent months. With only 30 per cent of funds raised going to the local council, Milton Keynes recently abandoned plans to introduce a levy, and Cheltenham recently repealed its scheme, moving towards a partnership with local businesses through a Business Improvement District.
In its detailed submission, the BBPA has raised a number of other concerns, including around the sale of higher strength beers and cumulative impact policy evidence.
Brigid Simmonds, BBPA Chief Executive comments:
“I hope Camden listens to these concerns, as pubs are vital to the local economy. Camden’s draft policy is far too specific a tool to be effective in promoting wider public health objectives, which should be done through targeted campaigns and raising public awareness.
“Powers under the licensing regime are rightly focused on dealing with issues in and around specific premises, such as public nuisance, crime and public safety. A Late Night Levy is not a partnership, but a tax.
“I hope Camden will consider a more partnership-based approach, through schemes such as Business Improvement Districts, Pubwatch and Best Bar None, which encourage businesses, the Council, and police to work together to share best practice and promote a safer drinking environment.”