Figures debunk claims that 24-hour licence is everything

16 November, 2007

Few retailers jump to take up the option for round-the-clock alcohol sales

Just 910 out of 32,600 off-sales premises have been given 24-hour licences since the new Licensing Act was introduced.

The relatively small figure, released by the Department of Culture, Media & Sport, forms part of the first official statistics revealed since the

Act came in and puts paid to the theory that all premises would be clamouring for the right to sell alcohol around the clock.

Of the 910 premises given 24-hour licences, 65 per cent are supermarkets and 35 per cent convenience stores.

Licensing minister Gerry Sutcliffe said: "These are the first official licensing figures since the Act came into force two years ago and I'm pleased they put to bed the theory that this law is all about 24-hour drinking - it isn't.

"Less than 3 per cent of premises are licensed to sell alcohol round-the-clock and two-thirds are of those are hotels, which have always been able to serve their guests for 24 hours a day."

The figures, based on the returns from 86 per cent of local authorities, also show the total number of alcohol licences issued, suspended and revoked in England and Wales since the Act was introduced.

A relatively small number of licences have been revoked and suspended in the past two years, indicating that the vast majority of people selling alcohol are doing so responsibly.

Of the 176,400 licences issued to the on and off-trades, just 90

were revoked and 91 suspended for up to three months. Authorities ordered 110 premises to change their opening hours and a further 390 had conditions placed on their licence.

The Liberal Democrats criticised the government's record on tackling binge-drinking as the figures were published.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Culture, Media

& Sport Secretary Don Foster said: "The

government's own figures show a complete failure to tackle Britain's growing drink problem.

"When the new Licensing Act was introduced, we were promised a continental drinking culture, but in reality we've seen a dramatic leap in alcohol-related A&E admissions and a surge in drunken violence."

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