New licensing system
By Ted JeoryPOLICE have warned pubs, clubs and restaurants could be banned from selling alcohol if they fail to meet the deadline to apply for special new licences.
By Ted Jeory
POLICE have warned pubs, clubs and restaurants could be banned from selling alcohol if they fail to meet the deadline to apply for special new licences.
There is mounting concern among police across north Essex about the slow response from businesses to comply with new legislation.
Fewer than one in six businesses in the Colchester, Tendring and Braintree districts have so far applied for the new licences.
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Under the new Licensing Act, pubs, clubs, restaurants and any shop selling alcohol must submit applications for permission to continue serving drinks by August 6.
They require both a personal licence and one for the premises, even if they are not seeking permission to stay open later.
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There are more than 800 licensed premises in the Braintree police division, which also includes Dunmow, Halstead, Saffron Walden and Witham.
But to date only 150 applications for personal licences and 65 for premises have been received – despite advisory letters having been sent out.
When the new legislation takes effect in November, businesses will be breaking the law if they do not have both licences.
Stephen Sparrow, licensing officer for Braintree police, said: "Anyone who fails to comply in time is putting their business at risk. It is a case of no licence, no selling alcohol. This is a parliamentary requirement.
"I am appealing to licensees not to leave it too close to the deadline to submit applications. If there is a late bottleneck, there could be problems in processing them in time."
Mr Sparrow also advised licensees to seek legal advice if they were in any doubt about their obligations.
Police in the Tendring division are expecting up to 2,000 personal applications, but have received just 70 so far – and only 57 from the 635 premises.
Alan Tolmie, licensing officer for the area, said he was expected to be deluged with applications.
"I can now smell the faintest whiff of panic, which is beginning to turn into a bush fire. We expect to be deluged," he added.
"I have done about 30 to 40 seminars about this throughout the district. All my staff have gone out to them or invited them in and still we are at this stage."
Mike Aitchison, licensing officer for the Colchester division, said there had been 109 personal applications out of a possible 2,000, with only 57 applications for premises out of more than 750 expected to come in.
"They really need to be in by August 6 otherwise they will lose their existing licence and that cannot be replicated as they would have to go for a brand new licence," he warned.