Plan to drop alcohol licensing notices is 'recipe for trouble'

First published in News East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by , Senior reporter

Applications to sell alcohol or extend licensing hours risk going unnoticed by the public under new proposals being considered by the government.

Anyone who wants to apply for a new licence or make full variations to an existing one is currently required to advertise the fact in a local newspaper.

But that safeguard could be lifted under new plans to deregulate the drinks industry.

The proposals have united residents and councillors in opposition.

Rachel Hunniford, 44, of Fullers Road was one of a number of residents who successfully fought plans by the Napier Arms pub in Woodford New Road to stay open until 2am.

She said: “It is essential to let people know about any major licencing issues on their doorstep.

“When the Napier Arms applied, they put the notice in their window under a bubble ridged pane of glass which was impossible to read.

“If the government removes the requirement to advertise in the papers they will be making life easier for landlords but harder for local people.”

If the proposals become law, those applying for new licences or varying existing ones would still have to advertise online via council websites and place physical notices outside their premises.

But campaigners say that is not enough.

Lynda Edwards lives in Manor Court Lodge, a retirement complex next door to Funky Mojoe bar in High Road, South Woodford.

She said: “The lives of the people living here have been made miserable by that place.

“I think anyone who wants to sell drink should have to put a notice in the paper.

“It’s all very well saying the information is on the internet, but I don’t have access to it, so how am I supposed to find out what’s happening?”

Cllr Ruth Clark, Chair of the Licensing Committee for Redbridge Council, said: “I have the consultation and I have to say I would definitely tick the ‘no’ box on this one.

“As a councillor I want as much consultation with residents as possible.

“This idea sounds like a recipe for trouble and future problems to me.”

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