The licensing act 2003 was not just about changing the licence regime for those selling alcohol but like much of the legislation during the Blair years seemed to be a grab for power by central government and a means of controlling the public.
It was and still is bureaucratic labyrinthine that would make Sir Humphrey proud. What was apparent by looking at the act was that just about every interested group and pressure group had had a very big voice in preparing the legislation.
Even the police got a big boost to their powers in that any constable can now enter any premises at any time without a search warrant and without permission from his superiors, if he “suspects” a breach of the licensing act 2003 is being or is about to be made, this power was also extended to licensed employees of the council and it was made an offence to hinder either the police or the council.
No more Englishmen and their castles no need now for a magistrate to issue a search warrant, no more public protection by a process of division of powers.
The changes did not achieve anything meaningful with regards to controlling alcohol abuse, but that was not the real intention anyway.
As anyone who has been involved with the licensing magistrates previously will confirm, they took their duties very seriously and did not just hand out licences to anyone on a whim, the police and local parish councils were involved at every stage, in fact in open court the police part of the process.
Of course nothing done in the licensing act has prevented the big supermarket chains from selling more booze, of course not, they had a big chair at the table, whilst small independent publicans and the public generally were virtually non persona.
The Culture Sectary is not going to be doing anything this time either he is not going to reduce powers of forced entry, he is not going to curb the supermarkets virtual monopoly on off-sales he is just going to remove some of the licensable activities.
The consultation paper looks at all currently licensable activities and asks what would happen if the activity no longer required a licence. Where there is no good reason to continue with the existing regime, the Government will look to abolish it.
Do they really need a consultation period I mean how many times have the police been called out to break up a fight at a Punch and Judy show? And what did the think happened before 2003 were we inundated with toddlers running amok at a magic show I don’t think so.
If you want to participate in the consultation or have any comments you can do so by sending an email to : mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
date: 10 September 2011
Closing date:03 December 2011
Of course had the culture sectary written on a proper blog he would have enabled comments there.