The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has called on the Government to go further in its Red Tape Review to ensure that local authorities are consistent in their approach to enforcement, as well as removing the costly and unnecessary burdens experienced by licensed retailers.
In the submission, ACS welcomes the Government’s intention to remove £10bn worth of regulation over the course of this Parliament but has highlighted that the local enforcement and interpretation of regulations cause significant problems for retailers in addition to the regulations themselves.
ACS has called for the following measures to help retailers deal with enforcement at a local level:
• encouraging local authorities to take a more targeted approach to regulation, which includes recognising responsible businesses and targeting those that are non-compliant;
• removing the £2.7m annual burden on businesses who currently have to communicate licensing applications through local newspaper adverts;
• introducing a single, consistent platform for retailers and local authorities to manage licensing applications;
• removing the requirement for businesses to display their premises licence, as local authorities already have the information on which premises are licenced or not; and
• changing the way licensing conditions are put forward to ensure that they are justified on the basis of an individual store and its relationship to the licensing objectives.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “With local authorities and other local decision makers being given more decision making powers, it is important that the Government ensures that the interpretation of regulations is given as much consideration as the number of regulations in force. Primary authority schemes such as the ACS Assured Advice scheme can give some assurances to retailers based on one set of rules that must be accepted by all local decision makers, but there are plenty of other areas of local enforcement where the approach is inconsistent between authority areas.
“We believe that retailers should be able to focus on their business instead of having to jump through hoops and spend money unnecessarily to meet the needs of local authorities. Removing the cost of advertising licensing applications and introducing a more consistent approach to licensing enforcement should be a core part of the Government’s red tape review.”