Government to consult on below-cost

28 July, 2010

The government has launched a consultation on proposals to reform the Licensing Act, including the ban on below-cost sales of alcohol planned for the autumn.

Other measures already outlined by the government are plans to make it easier for local communities to influence licensing decisions – originally proposed by Labour – and tougher penalties for selling to children.

Home Secretary Theresa May said: “The benefits promised by the 24-hour drinking café culture have failed to materialise and in its place we have seen an increase in the number of alcohol-related incidents and drink-fuelled crime and disorder.”

Wine & Spirit Trade Association spokesman Gavin Partington said: “The WSTA supports a ban on selling alcohol below the level of duty and VAT and we are keen to work with the government on this issue to ensure any future legislation does not discriminate against any particular section of the drinks industry.

“We welcome the opportunity to contribute to the debate on licensing laws but it’s worth remembering that local authorities and police already have substantial powers to refuse and remove licenses from problem premises.

“We hope any changes in this area focus on tackling problem drinkers and premises and don’t add unnecessary costs and burdens to the vast majority of responsible consumers and businesses.”

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All across England and Wales, vineyards are being harvested. Down winding country lanes come armies of welly-wearing conscripts wielding secateurs and buckets, ready to reap the rewards of our vines. Happily they come, their cheeks ruddy with pride. Half an hour later they’re crawling over muddy clods with lacerated hands, drenched in claggy juice and cold sweat, as if ploughing through an endurance race.

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