Planned changes to alcohol licensing rules could discriminate against small businesses and undermine growing partnerships, the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has warned the Local Government Association.

ACS public affairs director Shane Brennan said: "Together the changes to alcohol licensing rules proposed mark a significant reduction in the rights of businesses that serve the local community.

"The risk is that more businesses will suffer rough justice as licences are refused, revoked or have conditions imposed based on assumptions and generalities rather than robust local evidence. Where this happens it will undermine the scope for effective partnerships between councils, businesses and the wider community to tackle alcohol- related harm. We urge Councils to use the new powers they are given wisely and fairly. They must also remain committed to positive partnership approaches that are proven to make the best lasting difference to alcohol related problems in communities."

The changes that were signalled in the Alcohol Strategy published by the Prime Minister in March include: making it easier to impose Cumulative Impact Policies to control ’density’ of off licences; and reducing the threshold for evidence required to refuse, revoke or impose conditions on a licence.