Common sense approach urged for alcohol legislation

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The government has been called on to ensure that Early Morning Restriction Orders (EMROs) and the Late Night Levy should only be implemented in areas with a proven problem with alcohol-related crime.

The proposals to introduce EMROs and a Late Night Levy are attempts to cut down on alcohol-related crimes in certain areas. If implemented, licensed businesses in an area with an EMRO could be prohibited from selling alcohol between the hours of midnight and 6am depending on the local authority. Retailers could also be charged a levy if they serve alcohol between these hours by their local authority.

The amount of the levy will vary on the size and nature of the licensed premises but could be as high as £4,440 a year. The Home Office estimates that it could raise as much as £13.5m across Wales and England, which will be split 70:30 between the police and participating councils.

In a response to the government’s consultation on how EMROs and the Late Night Levy should be introduced and operated, the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) called for responsible retailers to be protected rather than penalised.

“We support measures to tackle alcohol misuse, providing they do so in a proportionate way,” said chief executive James Lowman. “There is a serious risk that responsible businesses could be penalised under the proposed regulations unless clear safeguards are introduced.”

The ACS set out several recommendations in its response including a requirement on local authorities to clearly state where and why an EMRO or levy would be introduced, assessments of responsible practices of each premises which may be affected by a levy, clear details on the services a levy would fund and the ability for premises to reduce their licensing hours without charge before a levy is implemented.

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