New licensing rule may call time on late-night drinking

First published in Ryedale news York Press: Photograph of the Author by , mark.stead@thepress.co.uk

PUBS, restaurants, hotels and theme parks in Ryedale could cut their opening hours to avoid being hit in the pocket if a new licensing rule is brought into force.

Councils are being given the power to introduce a late night levy, allowing them to charge licensed premises which serve alcohol beyond midnight for “extra enforcement costs”, such as policing bills.

The issue of whether it is implemented in Ryedale will be discussed next week, but Ryedale District Council licensing officers have warned as many as 90 premises – including 29 pubs, ten restaurants and 16 hotels, guest houses and bed-and-breakfast businesses – may react by only opening their bars until the midnight cut-off point if the levy is brought in.

A report by Phil Long, the authority’s head of environment, which will go before its licensing committee next week, said such a move could also create more administration pressure and expense for the council in dealing with licence-change requests, as it could not charge for the work.

He said businesses paying the levy may want to open even later, potentially creating more antisocial behaviour, and it could create unrealistic expectations of more police being on duty.

“A significant number – possibly in excess of 50 per cent – of licensed premises who would currently be affected by the imposition of such a levy would be likely to vary their current licence to midnight, thus avoiding the cost,” it said.

“Licence-holders who choose to reduce the hours on their licence would still have the ability to apply for temporary events notices for 21 days a year. This would lead to a large amount of extra work with very little income.”

Mr Long’s report said any levy would affect 145 Ryedale licensed premises and potentially bring in £83,677 a year to North Yorkshire Police and £35,861 to the council, although administration, enforcement and collection costs would be deducted from this.

The income figure would drop to £52,329 for the police and £22,427 to the council if 90 premises reduced their hours.

Next week’s meeting will also discuss the council’s stance on Early Morning Alcohol Restriction Orders, which allow authorities to restrict alcohol sales in areas with “alcohol-related crime and disorder issues” between midnight and 6am.

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