The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has slammed recommendations for restrictions on alcohol promotions and siting in-store.

The House of Lords Select Committee on the Licensing Act 2003, which published its 186-page report on Tuesday, The Licensing Act 2003: post-legislative scrutiny, calls for Section 1 of the Scotland the Alcohol etc (Scotland) Act 2010 to apply in England and Wales.

This included:

  • · restrictions on multi-pack pricing to prevent any form of multi-buy offer,
  • · a ban on “buy-one-get-one-frees” or any other offer including free alcohol
  • · restriction on the advertising of drinks promotions, limiting them to specific designated alcohol display areas in off-licence premises
  • · the requirement for all premises to introduce a “Challenge 25” policy as standard.

The committee said the Act was fundamentally flawed and needed a radical overhaul, including the abolition of local authority licensing committees.

The ACS said it broadly welcomed the committee’s report, but James Lowman, ACS chief executive, said calls for restrictions on alcohol promotions and siting in-store were “a blunt instrument” that would “harm all consumers, instead of targeting the minority that consumer alcohol irresponsibly”.

And he noted the committee had acknowledged that alcohol consumption was on a downward trend.

The ACS also raised concerns about recommendations made on licensing fees which it said gave local authorities “free rein to set their own licensing fees”.

Lowman said: “Previous Home Office consultations have demonstrated that locally set fees would result in significantly inflated costs despite the licensing process being streamlined.”

The committee rejected a raft of proposals that were debated extensively through the legislative review process including powers to ban super- strength alcohol and the introduction of blanket licensing conditions.

Committee chairman Baroness McIntosh of Pickering, said: “The committee was shocked by some of the evidence it received on hearings before licensing committees. Their decisions have been described as ‘something of a lottery’, ‘lacking formality’, and ‘indifferent’, with some ‘scandalous misuses of the powers of elected local councillors’.