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Deluge of licence applications expected

PUBLISHED: 09:42 15 June 2005 | UPDATED: 05:56 02 March 2010

PUBS and clubs in Ipswich were today warned they are coming perilously close to falling foul of licensing laws as the deadline for compliance looms.

Just 10 per cent of the venues which sell alcohol in Ipswich have applied for new licences, despite a strict August 6 deadline.

PUBS and clubs in Ipswich were today warned they are coming perilously close to falling foul of licensing laws as the deadline for compliance looms.

Just 10 per cent of the venues which sell alcohol in Ipswich have applied for new licences, despite a strict August 6 deadline.

And if they don't apply for the new licences in time, they could be banned from selling alcohol, meaning a few quiet nights in for people in Ipswich.

An even smaller percentage of the landlords and proprietors who require licences to sell alcohol have submitted applications for personal licences.

Simon Kellett, senior licensing officer at Ipswich Borough Council, said: "We have had six months from February 7 to do all of this and here we are four months down the road and we've had 10 per cent of premises' licences in. We've got to get 90 per cent to come in in eight weeks.

"If they miss the August 6 deadline then they've got to go through a whole new licence process, which is more onerous."

Ipswich Borough Council has received applications for only 36 licensed premises, even though they expect to have to process between 400 and 500.

On top of that, only 101 personal licence applications have been submitted - far short of the 1000 they believe they could receive.

Once applications are submitted by August 6 venues have until November 24 to have a new licence in place. If they do not, they will be banned from selling alcohol until a new licence is issued.

Licensing officers have warned that licences can take up to two months to process under normal circumstances and, with such a rush of applications expected before August 6, problems are anticipated.

Mr Kellett said: "I think what we'll see is a flood of applications coming in that might be wrongly completed. We may be forced to send them back and then they've missed the deadline, which will mean they've got to go through the process of applying for a new licence."

The new laws were unveiled by the government earlier this year and were designed to provide greater flexibility to venues, allowing them to secure licences which give them the discretion to stay open longer.

They were also touted as a way of reducing disorder problems by removing uniform closing times.

The changes prompted fears of a 24-hour binge drinking culture but Mr Kellett said of the venues which had submitted applications most had either opted not to alter their conditions or to extend them only marginally.

He said: "I think they've looked at it realistically in terms of what they need to run their business. The trade has taken a realistic approach."

Licensing Minister James Purnell, said: "These new laws give businesses new opportunities if they want to take them. But they are risking missing out.

"The message to licencees is stark and simple. Apply now. Otherwise people in Suffolk could well be spending some very quiet nights in."


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