The government may soften its stance on controversial plans to create Alcohol Disorder Zones, Hazel Blears, minister of state for policing, security and community safety, hinted at a stakeholder meeting this week.
Industry bodies expressed concern over the proposal to make licensed premises within the zones liable for costs associated with antisocial behaviour.
They argued that supermarkets and retailers selling relatively small amounts of alcohol were not responsible for the problem and should be exempt from the charges.
Andrew Opie, director of food policy at the British Retail Consortium, who attended the meeting, said: “We had a good discussion about exemptions from ADZs and how the zones
would be set up. The concern we’ve expressed is about retail outlets selling just a proportion of alcohol. Our point is that there is a difference between a retail outlet and a pub or a club, and I think that point was understood.”
He said Blears had agreed to look into the “exemption issues” surrounding the zones, which are part of a package of measures to combat violent crime under the Violent Crime Reduction Bill. “She was clear that alcohol-related issues were a priority, but she stressed that she saw ADZs as a last resort.”
The other issue was whether payment would be the same across the board or levied in proportion to the type of premises operated, he said.
“What we want is some clear guidelines on how the ADZs would operate. We don’t want too much left to the local authorities to interpret. What we want to see now is the detail.”
A stakeholders meeting to discuss the possible charges will take place on July 20.
The Violent Crime Reduction Bill is expected to reach committee stage in October.
Liz Hamson