Licensing powers ‘should include public health’

Current licensing laws need to be updated to require operators to take public health into account in running their premises, as well as wider safety and crime issues.

The LGA has long called for the Licensing Act 2003 to be updated to allow for action where premises fail to protect the health of their communities. 

Alongside greater access to NHS data, including hospital admissions and ambulance call-out details, councils would be able to reduce NHS costs and save lives.

Excessive alcohol consumption is estimated to cost the NHS £3.2 billion a year, with additional costs falling to social services, police and businesses. 

But despite the established link between consumption and the availability of alcohol, councils currently find it challenging to ask for modifications to licences on health grounds.

A public health objective would also ensure that councils are better prepared to deal with a future pandemic, allowing them to use established procedures for ensuring businesses take appropriate public health measures to protect customers.

Cllr Nesil Caliskan, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said the past year “has shown us the importance of businesses taking measures to protect public health”.

She added: “Councils want to support businesses and enable them to be successful, and do not want powers to refuse every application. But they also have a duty to protect their communities from infection and ill-health, and create vibrant and safe town centres for their residents.”


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