Two brothers trading in Gillingham, Kent, who prefer to stay anonymous, wanted to know how to go about extending their licensing hours. Their current hours are 8am ‘til 11pm, but they want to extend these so that they can sell alcohol from 6am when their shop opens.
At first I thought blimey, they must really like to party in Gillingham, but the pair pointed out that they had noticed the nearby Co-op, which formerly traded the same licensed hours as them, had a notice in their window that this would be extended to 6am.
So they are just looking to match the competition - and, of course, customers expect you to offer all your goods for sale during all of your opening times.
So I spoke to Chris Mitchener on the subject. Not only does Chris run a convenience store of his own in North Hampshire, but he is also the lead consultant with Licensing Solutions. What Chris doesn’t know about licensing isn’t worth knowing.
His own licensing hours start at 5.30am and, essentially, he says if you trade in an area that doesn’t have any particular problems with alcohol and the residents don’t mind, it shouldn’t prove difficult.
However, the brothers have had their licence for more than 20 years so it therefore dates back to the old Justices’ hours. Justices’ licences carried no conditions, but if you try to change the hours then the local authority is probably going to want to add conditions. “I’ll bet they never had the training,” he says. “The authorities will want a full training programme in place.”
As part of his service, Chris offers free advice and I have urged the brothers to consult with him to ensure that the authorities don’t impose any unreasonable or unnecessary conditions on their licence.