Department for Communities Liquor Licensing consultation – CAMRA’s suggested response
Please feel free to use CAMRA’s suggested points in response to each question, copied below, in your consultation response.
Including any extra examples, statistics or arguments based on your own experiences will help to demonstrate to the civil servants the need to reform liquor licensing laws to better support local brewers, cider producers, pubs and consumers.
The deadline for responses is 6th December 2019.
If you’d like to use our suggested responses as a starting point, we suggest you edit the Word Document copy here, making sure to include your name and email your response to: email@example.com
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Response to consultation questions:
Categories of licence
Q; Do you think the current 12 categories of licence are adequate?
No – there are not enough categories.
The current 12 categories of licence must be extended in order to better support local businesses and consumers in the beer, cider and pubs sectors.
I would like to see the addition of a producers licence available for bona fide producers of beer, cider and other alcoholic drinks in Northern Ireland, in addition to the 12 current premises licence categories.
This new category of producers licence is desperately needed in order to allow brewers, cider producers and other drinks producers to:
• sell their own produce at source in shops and tap room settings on their premises
• run and take payment for brewery/premises tours and sell their produce at the site
• sell their products online
• apply for occasional licences in order to sell at local farmers markets and events
I believe that the introduction of a new category of producers licence would deliver:
• increased business sustainability and a level playing field for brewers and cider makers
• a boost to the Northern Ireland tourism sector
• better access to high quality, local beer and ciders for consumers
• the ability for brewers and cider producers to apply for occasional licences to sell at the likes of farmers markets and food and drink festivals.
Small brewing businesses in Northern Ireland have been unable to expand their business and employ more people due to these licensing restrictions. Similar businesses across the rest of Great Britain have been able to expand much more quickly and employ more people, as they do not face restrictions on selling their products.
Crucially, a producer’s licence must be affordable for local brewers and cider producers, the vast majority of which are small businesses that would not be able to afford the price of applying for full premises licence.
I believe that the introduction of a producer’s licences could and should be done over and above the current number of premises licences and should not be subject to the surrender principle.
A producer’s licence must allow brewers and cider producers to sell their products online – even if they are unable to, or do not wish to, sell at a shop or taproom setting on their own premises. At the moment consumers in Northern Ireland can order beer or cider from Great Britain over the internet, but cannot buy local produce.
I do not believe that introducing a new category of licence just to cover brewery tours, as has happened in the Republic of Ireland, would be sufficient to address the challenges that small, local brewers and cider makers face. These small businesses must be given fair access to selling online, in taprooms, in brewery shops and at local events and markets – and not just limited to offering brewery tours.
Brewers and producers in England, Scotland and Wales do not face such restrictions and are able to grow their businesses and improve the availability and reputation of local produce by selling through tap rooms, after brewery tours and at local markets and events. I believe that brewers in Northern Ireland should be able to compete on a level playing field with their counterparts in Great Britain.
Drinks producers should also be able to compete on a level playing field with food and soft drink producers in Northern Ireland who are able to sell their product without restrictions.
A new category of licence is required to allow brewers and cider producers to sell their own produce online, at events and at shops or taprooms on their own premises would also address significant issues in terms of competition within the beer and pubs sector in Northern Ireland.
While I recognise that competition law is not the responsibility of the Department for Communities, the current anti-competitive nature of the beer and pubs sectors means that small and local brewers and cider makers cannot sell their products in the vast majority of local pubs.
This is because most pubs across the country are locked into contracts with global brewers that restrict them from selling locally brewed beers. This prevents new businesses selling their products as permanent or guest beers, as happens in Great Britain.
As a result, small businesses need other routes to market and the ability to sell their products directly from shops or taprooms on their premises, online, and at local events and markets.
The current anti-competitive legislation is also a barrier to the development of tourism industry in Northern Ireland, as visitors and international buyers are unable to access locally produced beers and ciders.
The products that these brewers are producing are high quality, local produce with a high price point which are enjoyed by local consumers and visitors alike. I therefore do not believe that opening brewery shops and taprooms would lead to any increase in problem drinking or anti-social behaviour.
Q: Do you think the current permitted hours for licensed premises are appropriate?
No – I think they should be increased.
There are major social, cultural and health reasons for promoting responsible drinking in pubs and clubs, where the sale and consumption of alcohol is supervised in a community setting.
Licensing legislation should therefore support positive action to support pubs and to increase the proportion of alcohol consumed in responsible environments and community settings in the on-trade – instead of allowing people to consume cheap alcohol in an unsupervised setting at home.
Licensing hour restrictions should therefore be relaxed and licensees be allowed to best decide when to open.
I am in favour of proposals for permitted hours of an additional 1 hour (until 2.00am) in certain circumstances, 12 times in a year (not including Christmas Day, Good Friday or Easter Sunday). I also believe that Sunday hours should be the same as every other day of the week.
Additional hours – small public houses
Q: Do you think the current 20 occasions where a small pub can apply for late opening is appropriate?
No – I think they should be increased.
I do not believe that 20 occasions is an appropriate number and feel that this reduces consumer choice and makes small pub businesses less viable. I would support the current 20 occasions being increased to 85 times per year in line with registered clubs.
Q: Do you think the current opening hours for Easter are appropriate?
No – I think they should be more flexible.
I would support extending normal late opening to the Thursday before Good Friday and on Easter Sunday. I support removing the current restrictions on Good Friday. I think normal late opening should be permitted on the Saturday before Easter Sunday.
The current opening hours for Easter restrict consumer choice and are damaging to the tourism industry. I believe that restrictions should be lifted, that Easter opening hours should be brought in line with every other day of the year, and that it should be up to the licensee to decide when to open their premises.
Drinking up time
Q: Do you think the current 30 minutes drinking up time is adequate?
No. I support extending drinking-up time from 30 minutes to an hour for the reasons outlined in the consultation document about a gradual dispersal of customers to minimise disruption.
Removal of off-sales
Q: Do you think alcoholic drinks, which are bought before 11.00pm, should be allowed to be removed from the premises between 11.00pm and 1.00am (carryouts bought in a pub but taken home later)?
I believe that it should be up to the licensee of a pub to decide when and how to sell alcoholic drinks to be removed from the premises, as long as this is done responsibly.
Places of public entertainment
Q: Do you think the current permitted hours for licensed race tracks are appropriate?
No suggested response.
Q: Do you think the current licensing laws regarding major events are adequate?
I think that, with appropriate controls and conditions in place, certain events should be allowed alternative permitted hours.
I believe that the Department for Communities should be able to designate an event as a “special event” so that liquor licensing laws can be changed to accommodate the needs of local businesses, residents and consumers during such events.
The existing licensing regime has not been flexible enough to ensure that local businesses can sell their produce at such events, and that event holders can meet demands.
I support the power to extend permitted hours at designated events, in order to give consumers more choice and so that local businesses in the pub sector can benefit from extra custom.
I support moves to allow the sale of alcoholic drinks for consumption off the premises at a “special event” in order to allow brewers and cider producers in Northern Ireland to be able to sell high quality local produce from stalls, at markets and at events. This would increase the availability of local beers and ciders to local consumers and visitors, and help local businesses to build their reputation and expand.
Alignment of entertainment and liquor licensing
Q: Do you think the current practice of entertainment being provided beyond the end of drinking-up time is acceptable?
I believe that it should be up to the licensee to decide if they allow entertainment after drinking-up time.
Q: Do you think the current law regarding children’s certificates is adequate?
No – I think the requirement to hold a children’s certificate should be removed.
I believe that accompanied children should be allowed in pubs and clubs if the facilities are suitable, if the licensee wishes to admit them, and if the adult responsible for them judges that the pub is suitable for the child.
I would support a proposal whereby a licence holder does not have the expense of having to apply for a physical children’s certificate.
Deliveries of alcohol
Q: Do you think the current safeguards regarding deliveries of alcohol to young people are adequate?
I would support moves to prevent under 18s being able to receive deliveries of alcoholic drinks or accessing click and collect lockers.
Q: Do you think the current law regarding underage functions is adequate?
No – I think it should be relaxed.
I believe that children should be allowed to stay at functions such as family weddings beyond 9pm, as long as the licensee and the responsible adults agree that the venue is suitable for the child.
Q: Do you think the current law regarding young people at family functions is adequate?
No – I think it should be relaxed.
I believe that children should be allowed to stay at family functions, as long as the licensee and the responsible adults agree that the venue is suitable for the child.
Young people in sporting clubs
Q: Do you think the current law regarding young people in sporting clubs is adequate?
No – I think it should be relaxed.
Young people should be able to stay at events in sporting clubs as long as the event is an appropriate one for them to be there.
Restrictions on advertising in supermarkets and off-sales
Q: Do you think restrictions should be placed on the alcohol advertisements from supermarkets and off-sales?
I support responsible drinking in a supervised community setting, as opposed to people consuming larger quantities of cheap alcohol at home.
I am concerned the use of alcohol as a loss leader in supermarkets is anti-competitive and needs to be addressed. I would support action to prevent the sale of alcohol as a loss leader, and for restrictions to be placed on alcohol advertisements and promotions in and around supermarkets and off-sales.
I would like to see advertising of alcohol regulated by an independent body, with significant representation for consumers and small businesses in the pubs and brewing sectors, and not just big businesses and their representatives.
Advertising of functions in clubs
Q: Do you think the current restrictions on advertising of functions in registered clubs should be amended?
I would not have a problem with lifting restrictions on advertising of functions in registered clubs.
Provision of entertainment in restaurants
Q: Do you think the law in relation to the provision of entertainment in restaurants should be changed?
No suggested response.
Q: Do you think self-service of alcoholic drinks should be regulated?
It would seem sensible to support moves to prevent self-service alcohol at the likes of vending machines, self-service tills and click and collect lockers that could lead to underage drinking. I support responsible drinking in a supervised, community setting.
Codes of practice
Q: Do you think the Department should be allowed to formally approve industry codes of practice?
The Portman Group operates codes of practice on naming, packaging, promotion of and sponsorship by alcoholic drinks in the UK. I do not see the need for a further level of regulation.
If the Department was given the ability to draw up codes of practice on drinks promotions I would want any codes must be drawn up in consultation with consumers, small pub businesses and local brewers and cider makers and not just large and/or international companies.
Remote sale of alcoholic drinks
Q: Do you think the law should be clarified in respect of the remote sale of alcoholic drinks?
I support the law being clarified to allow local brewers and cider makers to be able to sell their products online, so that they can compete on a level playing field with other businesses in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland, as well as with other food and drink businesses in Northern Ireland.
I am in favour of ensuring that online sales have to come from licensed premises, as long as this would allow local brewers and cider makers to sell their products online.
Q: Do you think the law should be changed to ensure that alcoholic drinks cannot be used in loyalty schemes?
No suggested response.
Are there any other aspects of liquor licensing law that you feel should be changed?
I would support a wholesale review into the operation and effectiveness of the licensing system in Northern Ireland, particularly the future of the surrender principle and the costs involved for pubs, brewers, cider makers, other licence holders and consumers. I would like to see widespread reform of Northern Ireland’s licensing system in order to better support responsible consumers and to ensure fair competition between small local businesses and big international businesses.