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ACS warns against licensing upheaval

07 October, 2009

ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores) has expressed concern over the Conservative Party’s proposals to make sweeping changes to the current alcohol licensing regime. The measures, laid out by Shadow Home Secretary Chris

Grayling MP in his speech to the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, could lead to unnecessary cost and confusion among retailers

Grayling said if elected his party would ‘tear up’ the existing licensing system. This would include introducing measures that would allow councils to limit opening hours, control the density of outlets in some centres and giving communities the power to veto new licence applications.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Retailers have already gone through a period of significant upheaval following the introduction of the recent Licensing Act. We fear that sweeping changes will lead to the return of the confusion and costs of the last changeover.”

Grayling also announced a new series of penalties for retailers who sell alcohol to under 18s.

Lowman continued: “There are already extensive penalties that local councils and communities can use to punish and deter retailers who break the law on underage sales. We think that current laws could be made to work better rather than creating new ones.”

Grayling also laid out plans to tackle youth drinking by decreasing the affordability of super-strength alcohol and alcopops by increasing taxes on these products. He also revealed Conservative policy to ban the below cost selling of alcohol.

Lowman said: “We are concerned about whether the measures suggested will be effective. Measures to increase costs for all tend to affect the determined drinkers least. We will engage with the Conservatives on this important issue and will urge politicians to consider the evidence closely before imposing measures that won’t be effective.”