YP Comment: Licensing checks and balances

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TODAY’S Parliamentary report on licensing can be traced back 15 years to the Blair government’s decision to sanction round-the-clock drinking in a bid to recreate the café culture that is one of Europe’s more redeeming features.

Though Britain’s burgeoning night-life economy has been critical to the economic resurgence of towns and cities across Yorkshire, the decision-making powers passed to local authority licensing committees effectively marginalised any misgivings on the part of local residents whose lives have been, or could be, blighted by excessive noise and duress beyond their control.

In this regard, today’s House of Lords report – co-ordinated by former North Yorkshire MP Anne McIntosh – makes a fundamental point which should be heeded. Matters such as pub opening hours, or the licensing of nightclubs and live music venues, should come under the auspices of the local town hall’s planning committee so all factors, including representations made by local residents, can be taken into account.

However, it should not necessarily require Government legislation to bring this change about. It should be within the power of local authorities to revise their decision-making protocols appropriately to ensure the leisure industry’s wishes respect the concerns of residents, and vice-versa. It’s called checks and balances.