Tackling underage sales and the drink-fuelled crime and anti-social behaviour that blights many of our communities is a key priority for the Home Office, Minister for Crime Prevention James Brokenshire emphasised on a visit to Newquay tonight.
The Minister met with local representatives from the Newquay Safe Partnership during a walk around pubs and bars in Newquay town centre to see first-hand the problems and successes they have had tackling under-age drinking and anti-social behaviour.
The visit coincides with a six week public consultation on a range of options to overhaul the Licensing Act, giving greater powers to local communities and taking tougher action on problem premises.
Measures for consultation include:
* making it easier for communities to have their say on local licensing by allowing local authorities to consider the views of the wider community, not just those living close to premises;
* taking tough action against underage drinking by doubling the fine to £20,000 for those found persistently selling alcohol to children, extending orders that see premises closed on a voluntary basis to a minimum of seven days and bringing in automatic licence reviews for these problem premises – which can see licences revoked;
* charging a fee for late-night licences to pay for the cost of extra policing and scrapping ineffective, bureaucratic and unpopular Alcohol Disorder Zones;
* ensuring policing and health concerns are fully considered so that the impact of licensing on crime and disorder or public health can be fully taken into account when assessing licence applications;
* increasing licence fees so that local councils can cover costs linked to enforcement leaving premises to pay rather than the local taxpayer;
* tightening up rules for temporary licences by limiting the number of Temporary Event Notices that can be applied for in any one year. These are often used to get around the restrictions of applying for a permanent licence; and
* introducing a ban on the sale of below cost alcohol and consulting on how this can be achieved.
Minister for Crime Prevention James Brokenshire said:
“We are concerned about the number of alcohol-related incidents and the drink-fuelled crime and disorder that blights many of our towns and cities.
“The majority of pubs and bars are well run businesses but the Government believes the system needs to be rebalanced in favour of the local communities they serve, with tougher action to crack down on the small number of premises who cause problems.
“I am really encouraged to see how Newquay Safe Partnership is leading the way and working with the community to address the issues that really matter to local people. In doing so they are helping make the area a safer and more enjoyable place to be.”
Lance Kennedy, Cornwall Council Cabinet member and Newquay Safe Partnership member, said:
“Our Partnership brings together over 20 organisations that have been working hard to help Newquay evolve as a safe and enjoyable place to live and visit.
“Newquay has experienced a number of issues including binge drinking, young people holidaying in groups without their parents and people buying alcohol for under 18s.
“The Partnership is now seeing some real successes and we are pleased that the Minister has chosen to come to Newquay to see the problems we are facing and how we are dealing with them.”