» Monday, November 14, 2005

Licensing Act

Asked for further information about the Licensing Act powers, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that we wanted to emphasise to local authorities the new powers contained in the Licensing Act. These were powers that allowed fixed penalty notices to be given for alcohol related disorders, targeting under-age sales of alcohol, the use of CC TV to defuse potential disorder, as well as the powers to close down premises that caused trouble. The PMOS said that tomorrow, the AMEC 3 announcement would similarly be aimed at those premises that were causing problems as well as those that were selling to under-age drinkers.

Asked if we were expecting trouble from the announcement, the PMOS said we were not. What we had been saying all the way through was that these acts gave the authorities and the police new powers to tackle disorder, and we had always emphasised that using the Licensing Act was not about twenty-four (24) hour opening, but rather, was about giving new powers to local authorities to close down potentially troublesome premises as well as widening the amount of time pubs could be open for.

Asked when the Act came into force, the PMOS said on the 24 November 2005.

Put to the PMOS that today’s Independent newspaper had showed that "hundreds and hundreds" of premises that had been granted a 24 hour license, not a handful as James Purnell had made out, and was the Government disappointed about the number of applications that had been granted, the PMOS replied that the important thing was to recognise the new powers that the Act gave to police, local authorities and to neighbourhoods to be able to make representations to lead to troublesome premises being shut down. All those were part of the Act, and therefore, it should not be seen as just being about one thing.

Asked how long it would take to close down a troublesome premise under the Act, the PMOS said that people had the authority to shut it down very quickly indeed. That was part of the new Act, as it allowed the police the authority to shut down a premise for 24 hours, and then for longer periods if necessary.

Asked if the Government had acknowledged the apparent contradiction between all the 24 hour licenses being given, and the new crackdown on disorders such as vomiting in the streets, the PMOS said what the question begged was the fact that there was already disorder that had to be tackled, and there were already problems associated with certain premises. Therefore, the new Act would allow the police and local authorities to better tackle these issues, so people should not pretend that this was a new issue that had to be addressed. As the Prime Minister had already said, because some premises had problems, it was not a reason to stop others from having longer hours; the key was how people used the new rights they had, and whether they lived up to the responsibilities that they had.

Asked how the CC TV would be used, the PMOS said that it encouraged local authorities to invest in CC TV so it could be used by the police and others to move to where the trouble was happening.

Put to the PMOS that would mean more cost for local councils, the PMOS replied: no. It meant more ability for local police to take action.

Briefing took place at 16:00 | Search for related news

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