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Bexley publicans welcome change to licensing laws

PUBLISHED: 13:19 13 August 2010

Publicans have blamed the sale of low-cost alcohol in supermarkets for a decline in trade and have welcomed government proposals to change licensing laws.

Home Secretary Theresa May is due to launch a consultation on the proposals this week, five years after the changes were made under the previous Labour government.

Proposals include scrapping 24-hour drinking and prohibiting the sale of cut-price booze. It may also see an increase in powers for local authorities to be increased to enable them to impose a ban on drinking after midnight.

Manager of The Portrait, Mark Chalkley, 46, of Main Road, Sidcup, said: “It is one of the biggest problems for all pubs. Supermarkets sell cheap alcohol, which means some of the small pubs are not doing very well and more and more are closing down. Also, selling alcohol that cheap just encourages binge drinking.”

Tony Johnson, 36, the manager of Robin Hood and Little John, Lion Road, Bexleyheath, added: “Being able to buy alcohol so cheaply reduces the number of customers we get.

“You can drink cheaper indoors and you have to have money to drink in a pub.”

Under the guidelines, supermarkets will be prohibited from selling alcohol below the cost of duty and VAT and pubs and clubs that do stay open later will be made to pay a levy to cover the cost of policing. Fines for establishments caught selling alcohol to customers under the age of 18 will be doubled from £1,000 to £2,000.

Mr Chalkley estimated that his staff challenged around 150 to 250 each week for identification. He added that in Bexley, police send underage people into pubs frequently to see if they get served.

Crime prevention minister and MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup, James Brokenshire, said: “The government believes that the power to make licensing decisions needs to be re-balanced in favour of local communities.”

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