The Association of Convenience Stores has warned the Home Office that alcohol licensing changes outlined in the government’s latest licensing consultation would cost convenience stores at least £11m.
The Rebalancing the Licensing Act consultation, which concluded on Wednesday, has run for six weeks and sought views on 26 substantial changes to licensing policy.
Changes proposed include new sweeping powers for Police and Councils, the removal of the burden of evidence and the right of appeal, the introduction of new draconian penalties for underage sales offences, new fee-raising powers and blanket restrictions on opening hours.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The proposed changes to the licensing system would be a disaster for local shops. We fear that government is advancing at breakneck speed towards a raft of policy changes that are based on poor evidence and will lead to more difficulties for local authorities, more cost for businesses and more problems for communities.”
Lowman said that changes to the licensing application process asking retailers to demonstrate the impact of their licence would alone add £11m in costs to the convenience retailer.
“This new burden has unclear benefits,” added Lowman, “and is likely to cause cost-based discrimination which favours large companies who can afford the best legal representation.”