Responding to the publication of the Government’s Crime Prevention Strategy, the ALMR has welcomed to opportunity to engage with local and national authorities to promote the sector’s partnership work, but has warned against the introduction of heavy-handed powers that may threaten licensed premises.
ALMR Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “The Strategy states that the Government is looking at strengthening local partnerships which gives us a good chance to engage and promote the great work that we are doing through schemes such as Best Bar None, Pubwatch and Purple Flag. In her foreword, the Home Secretary acknowledges that crime is falling, and we can point to the partnership work already being carried out as a significant factor in that decrease.
“Unfortunately, the Strategy suggests new or revamped powers for local authorities that may threaten pubs and bars, bring instability and undermine investment and employment. Although the Government has indicated that the group review intervention power will only be considered where partnership schemes have broken down, we are very wary of any such power being given to local authorities. The introduction of a group review power is a very blunt tool, will unfairly penalise venues and undermine existing partnership schemes. This unnecessary step is being introduced without any prior warning or consultation with the trade.
“Increased transparency around the late-night levy and a chance to engage with councils and appeal is welcome; but we are concerned that this will encourage greater access to a tax on pubs and bars and a measure that needs to be evidence-based and should only be considered as a last resort. The Home Office wishes to support town centres and encourage businesses but both of these proposals, which do not acknowledge the switch in drinking trends towards the off-trade, will only undermine businesses confidence.
“The recent IAS report into the Licensing Act dispelled the myth that the Act is overly permissive and highlighted areas in which local authorities were not utilising their existing powers. The ALMR is repeating its message to the Home Office. Local authorities are in possession of powers that they are not employing effectively. The ALMR will continue to liaise and work with the Home Office to promote the work of the sector and existing partnership schemes and remind them that if it is serious about safeguarding investment, then existing powers must be utilised before new draconian measures are introduced.