One in four pubs to stop late opening

Johnny Green/PA Wire


Reforms are being introduced after attempts to reduce the problems associated with Labour's controversial 24-hour licensing laws.

More than 10,000 late-opening pubs and bars will revert to traditional closing times as part of a crackdown on 24-hour drinking.
Details of the changes being introduced were revealed in papers published by the government on Wednesday.

They say that under a 'late night levy' scheme, councils will be able to charge late-opening bars and pubs a fee of up to £4,440 a year, although the average bill is expected to be around £800. And extra police – paid for by pubs and bars – will be placed on the streets late at night.

All the cash raised by the levy will be shared 70:30 between police and town halls. Worth an estimated £13.5m nationwide, it can only be used for tackling the problems associated with late night drinking.

Consultation


The Home Office has consulted landlords across the country about the proposed changes. It has said that one in four pubs which currently open late will decide it is not worth their while to continue, under the new reforms. They will instead revert to traditional opening hours, and close before midnight.

Currently, around 42,000 pubs and bars open late, and the estimate is that in the average council area, more than 60 venues will stop.

The police, who say late licences have stretched them to breaking point, are expected to spend the money on putting more officers on the beat. The cash will pay for an estimated 4,000 extra police hours in each area.

Town halls are to be instructed to spend the money on taxi marshals to help drunks get home safely, as well as street cleaners and 'booze buses'. These buses, already in use in London's West End, carry paramedics to look after people who are injured or have drunk too much.

In separate legislation, councils are being given a new power entitled 'Early Morning Restriction Orders.' These will allow a blanket ban on any premises opening between midnight and 6am in trouble spots.

The Home Office said it was responding to public concern about the problems caused by Labour's 2003 Licensing Act.

Officials told the Daily Mail: "Many residents informed us that the night-time economy makes certain parts of the town no-go areas and anti-social behaviour associated with late-night drinking extends into residential communities not just around licensed premises."

The new rules will contain exceptions for small rural pubs as ministers say they do not want to drive them out of business.
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