Pub trade 'will have an input over new laws'
BARS could find their opening hours cut back and even having to pay hundreds of pounds if they want to open after midnight under new laws coming into force next month.
The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act will give local authorities powers to introduce Early Morning Restriction Orders (EMROs) and a Late Night Levy with cash raised split between the police, receiving 70 per cent, and council, getting 30 per cent.
EMROs allow the council to restrict opening times in any area, and at any specified time of the year. It could mean, for example, bars only being able to open until 2am. Meanwhile, the levy could be charged to all bars in the city opening after a set time, for instance midnight.
Calculated via rateable values it is expected most bars would pay about £800 a year, if implemented.
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Plymouth City Council's licensing officer Andy Netherton has been outlining possible outcomes of the legislation to bar bosses at meetings in the city this week. He addressed about 30 people at the Plymouth Licensing Forum, formerly Clubwatch, and more than 20 at Pubwatch, yesterday.
Mr Netherton said it has not been decided whether Plymouth will bring in either measure, and it was possible just one would be put in place.
He said it was likely consultations would take place with the trade from October, with a public consultation in January, before any decision is made.
The views of the police and new Police Commissioner would be important too.
"It's a fluid environment, but you will be consulted," he said, and added the consultation could be widened to look at "what the city's nighttime economy should look like".
Mr Netherton also stressed there are possible exemptions, for instance EMROs would not apply on New Year's Eve, and the levy would not apply to hotels, theatres, cinemas, bingo halls and amateur sports clubs, at the discretion of the council.
Furthermore, a 30 per cent reduction could be given to bars in the city's two Business Improvement Districts, or in good practice organisations such as Best Bar None and Pubwatch.
Mick McDonnell, Best Bar None chairman, said: "We as a trade will be consulted and have an input."
Tam Macpherson, boss of the Clipper Inn, described the prospect of using the consultation to look at wider aspects of licensing as "refreshing".