Ruffley warns of chaos under new licensing laws and writes to Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket Chambers of Commerce

Monday, 13 June, 2005

David Ruffley MP this week warned that the Government's changes in the licensing system may cause chaos. Under new licensing laws, pubs, restaurants, clubs and community centres will need to apply for a complex new premises licence, and licensees have to obtain a new personal licence on top. David has now written to the Chambers of Commerce in both Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket to ask if they are aware of any problems.

If an application is not made by August, all existing permissions for a venue will be lost; if the application is not made by November, it will be illegal to open.

In the St Edmundsbury Borough Council area, there are 400 licensed premises. But local government leaders suggest that half way through the applications process an average of just 5 per cent of licensed premises have applied for their new licence.

David explained:

'The new licensing laws are turning into a bureaucratic shambles of the Labour Government's own making. Pubs, clubs and restaurants across Bury St Edmunds, Stowmarket and the surrounding area could be facing disaster if the deadline is not extended, at least over the busy Christmas period.

'Many local firms and community centres simply don't realise that these new rules apply to them. Those who do realise are often overwhelmed by the endless forms they are required to fill in- people are now even expected to send detailed plans of the entire building, often meaning that a professional architect needs to be employed.

'I have called on the Government to do more to ensure that local facilities are not forced to close by these regulations. It is important to publicise the urgency of the situation; for even if all licensees put their applications in immediately, our council may still not be able to cope and there may not be proper scrutiny of new applications. Licensing deadlines must be extended to save local firms and voluntary groups from administrative chaos.'