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Published:  23 July, 2008

Wine & Spirit Association (WSA) director Quentin Rappoport has expressed his disappointment with the Government's forthcoming Licensing Bill. We see the Licensing Bill as crucial to the future of responsible retailing, but are disappointed in many of its aspects,' said Rappoport. The White Paper envisioned much more deregulation, which would have reduced bureaucracy whilst still maintaining standards. However, the Bill as it stands has lost the simplicity of the original concept and we are going to have to lobby hard to prevent needless regulation.' The WSA's Retail Panel, headed by Majestic's Tim How, was recently briefed by Parliamentary lobbying firm Quintus Public Affairs, which the WSA has retained to advise on Licensing Bill issues and to assist in the association's campaign to see changes to the draft legislation. The meeting, which was attended by major retail members of the WSA, Oddbins, Tesco, Somerfield, Marks & Spencer, Safeway, Sainsbury's, CWS and the Thresher Group, identified several key concerns in the Bill. These included the overly bureaucratic link between personal and premises licences, the transitional provision under which an existing licence holder's consent must be given to obtaining a licence under the new legislation, and the draconian police powers for closure orders, which the panel believes should be left to law and order legislation. The panel also requested that assurances be sought so that in-house training schemes will be acceptable under the new regime and asked for clarification on how temporary licences for new projects would be turned into full licences. There is concern that local changes beyond the control of a business might jeopardise an application for a full licence once building work is complete.