Headlines: March 24th, 2004

Modernisation of licensing laws in England and Wales has moved a step nearer with the laying before Parliament of draft Guidance to licensing authorities. It focuses on developing effective partnerships involving local authorities, businesses, the police, and communities to promote good practice and responsible behaviourThe draft guidance, which has to be approved by Parliament, has been drawn up to support the Licensing Act 2003, which is intended to pave the way for a more flexible system of licensing the supply of alcohol, the provision of late night refreshment and the regulation of entertainment. Once the guidance is approved it will go to licensing authorities to assist them in carrying out their functions to promote the four main aims of the Act – the prevention of crime and disorder, public safety, the prevention of public nuisance and protecting children.

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell said the idea was to make clear the government’s determination to enable licensing authorities and the police to bring the minority of badly run premises into line with the best. She said the police and other authorities should make full use of existing, and new powers under the Act.

The draft Guidance is subject to approval by both Houses of Parliament and may be subject to debate before the final version is agreed. There will then be a period of approximately six months during which licensing authorities have to prepare licensing policy statements that take into account the Guidance and promoting the licensing objectives. That will be followed by a further nine-month transitional period to allow existing licence holders to transfer to the new regime.