The changes, proposed in the Home Office consultation Rebalancing the Licensing Act, include giving local authorities and police stronger powers to remove licences from premises, allowing them to permanently shut any shop or bar that repeatedly sells alcohol to children, and giving powers to charge more for late-night licences to help pay for policing.
Also proposed are the removal of the burden of evidence and the right of appeal, and blanket restrictions on opening hours.
In its response, ACS has warned that licensing changes would be ineffective and would cost convenience retailers at least £11m. Chief executive James Lowman said: “We fear that government is advancing at breakneck speed towards policy changes that are based on poor evidence, and will lead to more difficulties for local authorities, more cost for businesses and more problems for communities.”
After a six-week consultation, which has now ended, Ministers are expected to attach many of the measures to the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill currently before Parliament, meaning that some could be in force within a matter of months.
Lowman called on government to “reflect carefully on the cost and red tape burden that these proposals would impose”.
Proving compliance would add £11m in costs to the convenience sector, he said, and claimed that “introducing arbitrary new powers and removing rights from responsible business owners would reduce trust, and prevent business and agencies from working together.”