Forecourts may have to re-think whether stocking alcohol or offering late night refreshment is viable following the announcement of costs for licences that are higher than previously proposed.
The new fee structure includes a £100 to £635 one-off payment for a new licence – a rise on the proposed £80 to £500; and £70 to £350 for an annual fee – up from £40 to £225. The fees are based on rateable values of the property but it is expected that forecourts will fall into the top band – £125,001 or more.
Ian Bowman, operations manager of independent retailer Triple Eight, said: “We’ve got to sit down and review the whole thing and work out if selling alcohol is economically viable – this is very different to a fee of £30 a year for three years.”
The Association of Convenience Stores also slammed the late announcement: “DCMS’s silence on the fee levels has already hurt businesses who had been unable to plan budgets for this year,” said a spokesman.
Robert Botkai, head of property and licensing at solicitors Winckworth Sherwood, warned: “Retailers must take legal advice and sort out their licences as soon as possible.” And to help retailers through the transitional period, which begins on February 6 and ends in November, Winckworth Sherwood has introduced a database system for its clients so they can track their licences and applications online. For legal advice, contact Robert Botkai on 0207 593 5004.