RESPONSE to QUESTIONNAIRE
Question 1. Do you agree that this MUP [45p] would achieve these aims?
Yes and No.
NORA members strongly support the introduction of a Minimum Unit Price as part of the effective programme for reducing alcohol consumption particularly by those who are binge drinkers and those who pre-load prior to visiting licensed venues, where alcoholic refreshment is considerably more expensive. It is essential that the imposition of the MUP will apply to all premises licensed to sell alcohol in particular clubs not open to the general public including student bars.
NORA members agree that the effect of a sufficiently high MUP will limit the discounting of alcoholic refreshment that currently supplies this group of drinkers. NORA members support the slightly higher price of 50p as the MUP, which would then equate, for example, the price of a 2 litre bottle of 4.5% alcohol cider with the price of a 750 ml bottle of 12% alcohol wine. On the basis that consumption will fall, the rise in price will go some way to compensate retailers.
It is unclear how the price of 45p for the MUP has arisen. Scotland has chosen 50p as its MUP presumably on studying similar evidence of its relevance and e#FFicacy from ScHARR. This is acknowledged in the Impact Assessment, but the detailed reasoning for the choice of 45p is not provided.
It is noteworthy that the watershed of 45-50p is clearly described in Table 9 (p 28) of the Impact Assessment. A MUP of 50p would a#FFect 80% of all discounted beer and 90% of cider whereas a 45p MUP would only affect 67% of beer. Once the Scottish decision is implemented, it must be good practice to harmonise Minimum Unit Prices in the UK.
Question 2: Should other factors or evidence be considered?
The interests of residents do not appear to be considered particularly relevant anywhere
in this Consultation Paper. Whilst alcoholic-fuelled crime is a significant factor for residents, whose premises are subject to wanton damage, the most important impact on residents is the considerable amount of anti-social behaviour that follows excessive alcohol consumption. Noise-nuisance and street fouling are serious events not only affecting residents' ability to enjoy their own property but also deterring them from leaving their homes in the evening. This can impinge on their well-being as well as the prosperity of restaurants, theatres, cinemas etc. Some estimate should be made of these factors.
Question 3: How do you think the level of MUP should be adjusted over time?
The MUP needs to be reviewed periodically in order to reflect continuing inflation.
Question 4: Are there other people, organisations or groups that could be particularly affected by a MUP?
It is said that those on low incomes will suffer as a result of the absence of discounted alcohol refreshment. Retail outlets use discounted alcohol to attract customers either to buy more or to buy other goods. Those on low incomes are not likely to be affected by this strategy. Indeed the data in the Impact Assessment concludes that those on low incomes are not significant consumers of discounted alcohol.
Consequently the effect on this group should not be significant. It is surely a necessary measure to protect the general community.
Question 5. Do you think there should be a ban on multi-buy promotions in the off-trade?
Yes and No.
It depends on the type of proscription.
NORA members accept that offers of '2 for 1' and '3 for 2' might induce customers to buy more should they only have wanted to buy one item, and this might induce them to drink more, so this practice could be banned.
In a different category comes the purchase of a dozen bottles in a crate or box, which is invariably offered at a cheaper price than buying the bottles singly. This purchase does not increase consumption since buying a dozen bottles requires forethought.
Provided the price per discounted bottle is not less than the MUP, we see no great advantage to banning all Multi-Buy purchases.
Question 6. Are there any further offers which should be included in a ban on multi-buy promotions?
If the banning of Multi-Buy purchases is implemented, it should also apply to on-sales. It is not made clear why the ban would apply only to the off-trade. Although the 2003 Licensing Act deals with undesirable promotions such as 'free drinks for women', 'all you can drink for £10', but '2 for 1' and '3 for 2' promotions are not listed. NORA members consider this promotion should be banned.
If this is accepted, then other promotional offers such as 'Happy Hours' might also merit banning on the grounds they promote a longer period of drinking cheaper alcohol and therefore more consumption.
Question 7. Should other factors or evidence be considered when considering a ban on multi-buy promotions?
It is not the existence of a promotion which causes a problem, but the quantum of the discount. We doubt whether 5% or 10% off a multi-pack of beer or wine would stimulate increased consumption, but a discount of 25 or 50% would surely have a significant impact. If there is concern about multi-buys, the control would better be addressed to the level of discounting affected.
Question 8. Do you think there are other groups that could be particularly affected by a ban on multi-buy promotions.
If the effect is to reduce excessive consumption of alcohol, residents should benefit from the reduction in the problems that currently occur.
Question 9. Do you think each of the mandatory licensing conditions is effective in promoting the licensing objectives?
Question 10. Do you think mandatory licensing conditions do enough to target irresponsible promotions in pubs and clubs?
In the answer to Q6 we point out the problem of some promotions that are not specifically mentioned in the 2003 Licensing Act.
Another and perhaps the most important issue peculiar to the UK is the custom of buying rounds of drinks. Before the advent of large licensed venues, premises were always designed so that bartenders could see all the customers. This ensured that anyone the worse for drink could be identified early, so that rounds of drinks were not sold for consumption by those under the influence. This is not practical in MVVD venues. It accounts for a significant number of drunks emerging from licensed premises, and is difficult for bar staff to be aware of the developing problem.
This particular problem does not occur on the continent since in large venues alcoholic refreshment is provided by bar staff to customers mostly sitting at tables.
This problem is a serious issue in the UK. A possible remedy is to ensure that at large licensed venues adequate staff are employed specifically to circulate among customers, so that a developing problem is recognised before drunkenness emerges. Banning the purchase of rounds of drinks is probably a step too far.
Question 11. Are there any other issues related to the licensing objectives which could be tackled through a mandatory licensing condition?
Question 12. Do you think the current approach, with five mandatory licensing conditions applying to the on-trade and only one of these applicable to the off-trade is appropriate?
Question 13. What sources of evidence on alcohol-related health harm could be used to support the introduction of a cumulative impact policy if it were possible for a CIP to include consideration of health?
Excessive alcohol consumption leads in the short-term to acute intoxication whereas in the long-term it leads to serious chronic health problems affecting, brain, liver, heart and digestive system. The medical services may be involved in acute intoxication in Accident & Emergency (A & E) Departments, but chronic disease is most commonly recognised by general practitioners with referrals to hospital clinics rather than A & E departments. Whereas acute intoxication would be a local problem, chronic disease develops over a long period of time and cannot be attributed just to local circumstances.
This means that medical data on long-term disease is unlikely to be of immediate relevance to licensing policy, whereas data on acute intoxication involving the health service should be available. A & E Departments should on a monthly basis collect sample data - the basis laid down by qualified statisticians - on the relevance of alcoholic consumption to injuries and states of intoxication, and provide this to Licensing Authorities. Total recording would be unnecessarily burdensome on NHS staff, and is not necessary to obtain adequate evidence. Reference to the last licensed venue attended by the patient would have obvious relevance to the need for concern by the licensing authorities.
Police evidence of drunkenness - where the person was found drunk and the last venue visited - would all be relevant to assessment for licensing reviews and for consideration of Cumulative Impact Zones.
Question 14. Do you think any aspects of the current CIP process would need to be amended to allow consideration of data on alcohol-related health harms?
Both the police and the health service should be obliged to provide to Licensing Authorities anonymous data as listed in the answer to Q13 though with specific references to venues and areas where the problems occur. The public should have access to this data.
Question 15. What impact do you think allowing consideration of data on alcohol-related harms when introducing a CIP would have if it were used in your local area?
Many NORA members already have a CIP in their area, but the evidence to justify the setting up of a CIP can be difficult to assemble. The addition of data on alcohol-related harms should make such decisions easier to justify.
Question 16. Should special provision to reduce the burdens on ancillary sellers be limited to specific types of business, and/or be available to all types of business provided they meet certain qualification criteria for limited or residential sales?
A. The provision should be limited to a specific list of certain types of business and the kinds of sales they make - Yes.
B. The provision should be available to all businesses providing they meet certain qualification criteria to be an ancillary seller - No
C. The provision should be available to both a specific list of premises and more widely to organisations meeting the prescribed definition of an ancillary seller, that is, both options A and B - No
NORA members are opposed to increasing the number of retail outlets selling alcohol refreshment. All the evidence concludes that increasing the availability of alcohol results in increasing alcohol-related problems.
Question 17. If special provision to reduce licensing burdens on ancillary sellers were to include a list of certain types of business, do you think it should apply to the following?
A. Accommodation providers, providing alcohol alongside accommodation as part of the contract - Yes
B. Hair and beauty salons, providing alcohol alongside a beauty treatment - No
C. Florists, providing alcohol alongside the purchase of flowers - No
D. Cultural organisations, such as theatres, cinemas and museums, providing alcohol alongside cultural events as part of the entry ticket - Yes.
E. Regular charitable events, providing alcohol as part of the wider occasion - No
Question 18. Do you have any suggestions for other types of businesses to which such special provision could apply without impacting adversely on one or more of the licensing objectives?
Book-signing events organised by booksellers.
Art gallery opening events.
Question 19. The aim of a new 'ancillary seller' status is to reduce burdens on business where the sale of alcohol is only a small part of their business and occurs alongside the provision of a wider product or service, while minimising loopholes for irresponsible businesses and maintaining the e#FFectiveness of enforcement. Do you think that the qualification criteria proposed in paragraph 9.6 meet this aim?
Only if the ancillary status is restricted to businesses with a clear relationship to the provision of alcohol as listed in Q17 and in para.9.6 would it meet this aim. Any extension to premises, that have no clear relationship with the consumption of alcohol, would improperly increase the availability of alcohol and increase the perception that the consumption of alcohol is a part of normal social behaviour everywhere.
NORA members are opposed to any extension to retail outlets and businesses to allow them to sell alcohol in small quantities other than those outlets where the sale of alcohol is integral to the facility provided by the retail outlet or the business. To extend the de-regulation will be conflict with government's policy to reduce alcohol consumption and its deleterious effects on society.
Question 20. Do you think that these proposals would significantly reduce the burdens on ancillary sellers?
Anyone selling alcoholic refreshment needs to be a personal licence holder. NORA members have always had reservations about the exemption from the need for a personal licence holder for TENs which include the sale of alcohol, and this suggested extension is opposed.
Question 21. Do you think that the following proposals would impact adversely on one or more of the licensing objectives?
In the absence of personal licence holder any failure to uphold the four licensing objectives would have no repercussions on the 'ancillary seller'. Without the knowledge and advice obtained when training for a licence, ancillary sellers would have limited skills to handle problem situations.
Question 22. What other issues or options do you think should be considered when taking forward proposals for a lighter touch authorisation?
Any further reductions in regulations that would result in increasing the availability of alcohol refreshment or the reduction in controls over consumption of alcohol are to be opposed on the grounds that they would be contrary to the government's alcohol strategy.
Question 23. Do you agree that licensing authorities should have the power to allow organisers of community events involving licensable activities to notify them through a locally determined notification process?
It is essential to have across the country a uniform approach to the need for premises licences and the restrictions of TENs in order to avoid conflict between neighbouring licensing authorities.
Question 24. What impact do you think a locally determined notification would have on organisers of community events?
A. Reduce the burden. No. It would only lead to confusion.
B. Increase the burden. It would be more difficult for Licensing Authorities to have to cope with the regular system as well as the 'locally determined notification'.
Question 25. Should the number of TENs which can be given in respect of individual premises be increased?
NORA members were alarmed when the time limit for TENs was increased from a continuous 96 hours to a continuous 168 hours, because it allowed the activity of TENs to continue throughout the night every night for a whole week. The need to increase the days for each TEN was appreciated and supported, since the request had come from those organising daily events for six days such as theatres and circuses. Their activities rarely continued after 2200 hours.
The possibility of even more TENs especially those involving alcoholic refreshment can only lead to more alcohol consumption in total conflict with the declared government policy of reducing alcohol consumption in the UK.
Question 26. If yes, please select one option
Question 27. Do you think that licensing authorities should have local discretion around late night refreshment in each of the following ways?
A. Determining that premises in certain areas are exempt. No
B. Determining that certain premises types are exempt in their local area. No
NORA members expect licensing regimes to be national and not subject to varying policies for different and neighbouring licensing authorities. Harmonisation of licensing regimes is essential to avoid disputes, anomalies and extra work for licensing officers.
Question 28. Do you agree that motorway service areas should receive a nationally prescribed exemption from regulations for the provision of late night refreshment?
Question 29. Please describe in the box below any other types of premises to which you think a nationally prescribed exemption should apply.
The only types of premises that might be exempted from the need for a Late Night Refreshment Licence are those placed well away from residential accommodation. Accordingly this would apply to Motorway Service Areas and could also apply to an isolated place in a rural setting.
Late Night Refreshment facilities are the site of problems for neighbouring residents whether there are neighbouring premises licensed to sell alcohol or not. Customers arriving during the would cause noise-nuisance, and those enterprises that offer a delivery service would involve noisy vehicular traffic all through the night.
Question 30. Do you agree with each of the following proposals?
A. Remove requirements to advertise licensing applications in local newspapers. No
The advertisement of licensing applications needs to be directed at all those likely to be affected by the proposals. There are two relevant groups of residents involved in the licensing regime. Individual residents living within the area of the venue need to be aware of proposals likely to affect their immediate environment. Where there are resident groups concerned about licensing, they need to know about all the licensing applications in the area covered by their residents in order to be ready to give advice to their members.
Individual residents can learn about new applications from the local media, the Blue Notice on the premises, from advice relayed by their resident group if they have one and if they are on the internet from the website of the local Licensing Authority.
Licensing representatives of resident groups learn about applications from the local media and the website of the local Licensing Authority. Few representatives seek out Blue Notices unless they are informed that there is a problem with a particular Blue Notice - it's missing, it's in breach of the regulations, etc.
As a result the current system fails a section of the community. Those who fail to spot the Blue Notice, who don't read the local paper, who are not members of residents group and who don't have access to the internet will miss out. The Blue Notice is a poor way of informing the passing public of an application, because it is easily made less obvious by placing it on a busy notice board or on a recessed door. This facility was inherited from the Licensing Magistrates regime, whereas the method employed by Planning Authorities of placing their white notices on prominent street furniture is more easily spotted.
It is NORA's contention that a change to the Blue Notice system could resolve this problem. If the placing of the Blue Notices were to be a duty of the Licensing Authority with the instruction to place them on public street furniture, then the need for specific individual advertisement in the local media could be repealed. Advertisement in the local media could be by the Licensing Authority issuing a weekly list of new licensing applications in the form of copy that the local media could turn into a regular article. This is organised by most planning authorities without extra cost to either the applicants or the authority.
Accordingly NORA members would support the removal of the need for applicants to place an advertisement in local newspapers provided three changes to the system for advertisement of licensing applications are made.
On the other hand if it is decided that advertising in the local newspapers by applicants should continue, then the regulations should be amended so that the consultation period starts with the date of publication and not as at present when the application is accepted by the Licensing Authority. At present the advertisement can appear part-way through the consultation period effectively reducing the time local residents and groups have to consider, consult others and respond.
- First the local Licensing Authority must become responsible for displaying the Blue Notice on street furniture adjacent to the relevant venue.
- Secondly the local Licensing Authority must provide a weekly list of new licensing applications for the local newspapers to publish as an item of news.
- Thirdly and most importantly Licensing Authorities are obliged to publish new licensing applications for their area on their website in a form that is clear and cover their whole area, and that failure to do so would inevitably incur a financial penalty.
B. Remove the centrally imposed prohibition on sale of alcohol at MSAs. No
C. Remove the centrally imposed prohibition on sale of alcohol at MSAs but only in respect of overnight accommodation - 'lodges'. Yes.
D. Remove or simplify requirements to renew personal licences under the 2003 Act. No
Question 31. Do you think that each of the proposals in Q30 would reduce the overall burdens on business?
A-D Don't know
Question 32. Do you think that the proposals in Q30 would impact adversely on one or more of the licensing objectives?
A. Remove requirements to advertise licensing applications in local newspapers. Yes. See answer to Q3.
It would disenfranchise a section of the community, so that relevant representations may not be registered against licensing applications that could breach the third licensing objective.
B. Remove the centrally imposed prohibition on sale of alcohol at MSAs. Yes.
The sale of alcohol to drivers would suggest to drivers that it is safe to drink and drive, which would be contrary to government policy.
C. Remove the centrally imposed prohibition on sale of alcohol at MSAs but only in respect of overnight accommodation - 'lodges'. No.
Provided that the licence was an on-licence and the driver advised not to consume alcohol if there was an early start,
D. Remove or simplify requirements to renew personal licences under the 2003 Act. Yes.
Personal licences were devised to ensure that wherever alcoholic refreshment was sold, there was someone in charge who had been properly trained to manage such sales.
Question 33. In addition to the suggestions outlined above, what other sections of or processes under the 2003 Act could in your view be removed or simplified to impact favourably on businesses without undermining the statutory licensing objectives or significantly increasing burdens on licensing authorities?
Question 34. Do you think that the Impact Assessments related to the consultation proposals provide an accurate representation of the costs and benefits of the proposals?
A - I
The impact of the proposals on residents appears to be ignored in the several Impact Assessments. Residents are an extremely important group in the licensing process, and the effect of changes on the regulatory conditions can have a serious impact on their ability to enjoy their property and their safety on leaving their premises in many areas. The cost of damage to their property as a result of anti-social behaviour consequent on excessive alcohol consumption is entirely overlooked in the several assessments.
Those proposals that lead to an increased consumption of alcohol would inevitably lead to an increase in crime and anti-social behaviour, however low-level, and are in direct conflict with stated government policy. Any proposals designed to reduce the burden on licensees should not be at the expense of a loss of amenity of residents or the cost of damage to their property.
Question 35. Do you have any comments on the methodologies or the assumptions used in the impact assessments?
The impact on residents appears to have been overlooked. See answer to Q34.
January 2013 Alan B Shrank - NORA chairman