Retailers have reacted angrily to news that alcohol licence fees are set to increase.
A report by the Independent Licensing Fees Panel has recommended to the government that fees for the three-year period from 2007/08 should increase by 7%.
It found that local authority and central government spending during the first 18 months of the new licensing regime was far higher than expected.
But c-store retailers have labelled the proposals as unfair and an extra burden on top of an already complex licensing application procedure.
Londis retailer Alan Fincham owns a store in Attleborough, Norfolk. He told Convenience Store: "It's already expensive. I will be forced to recoup extra costs through price increases, which isn't good for my customers. It's not right that small retailers are being forced to take these extra costs on the chin."
Alan also called for the licensing procedure to be simplified, a move that the panel has recommended. He added: "The whole application process was chaotic. I had to send seven different applications to different authorities - five of whom were at the same address. It was a total waste time for myself and the authorities."
The Association of Convenience Stores warned of ever-growing pressure on c-store retailers with alcohol licences. Public affairs manager Shane Brennan said: "Licensing legislation imposes a significant cost burden on retailers and these latest increases are concerning. We will be working hard to get government to simplify the legislation so that we can maybe go some way to lessening the impact of the increased costs."
The panel also recommended that the fees should be reviewed again in three years.

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