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CALLING TIME ON NUISANCE OFF-LICENCES

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Patrick Karney, chair of Manchester City Council's social strategy scrutiny committee will be asking the committee ...
Patrick Karney, chair of Manchester City Council's social strategy scrutiny committee will be asking the committee to increase the scrutiny on how off-licences operate and their impact on the lives of local people.

At present the Magistrates Courts provide alcohol licences for off-licence sales but under new legislation, the Licensing Act 2003, these powers will pass to local authorities next year.

Mr Karney said: 'Nuisance off-licences are a real problem across the city. We are receiving an increasing number of complaints about disorder and under age drinking which creates havoc in communities. We are compiling a dossier of current complaints and we want the public to continue to contact us about nuisance off-licences for our file.

'We have already seen people power in action when the Magistrates Court refused a renewal licence for Price Wise Wine and Beers, Wembury Street, following a petition from local people.'

At present, people can object to licensing magistrates to prevent off-licences getting a renewal permit - particularly if there have been problems regarding the sale of alcohol to under-age drinkers.

Manchester City Council is now in the process of placing information about the renewal of local off-licences' permits in local libraries and on the council's web site. Information on renewals will also be passed to all local councillors.

Once the power has been given to local authorities, the council will be taking into account local issues before renewing licences.

Jim Battle, chair of finance and general purposes scrutiny committee, said: 'When the council takes on new responsibilities under the new licensing act there will be financial implications for the council.

'We want to ensure that we have the appropriate mechanisms in place to deliver the best possible service, and we will closely scrutinise the implications of implementing this regime.

'We want to ensure there will be proper procedures to deal with applications from community organisations over disruptive off-licence premises.'

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