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COUNCIL CONSIDERS LONG-TERM IMPACT OF LICENSING FEES

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Birmingham City Council leader Mike Whitby is considering the impact that new licensing fees announced by the gover...
Birmingham City Council leader Mike Whitby is considering the impact that new licensing fees announced by the government last week will have on city coffers.

Mr Whitby spoke out on the fee structure set by the Department for

Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) which could result in local authorities

facing soaring administration charges to cope with the expected sharp rise

in licensing applications.

He said: 'The long term impact of the changes remains to be seen.

However, the constraints of the Act in relation to members' hearing

applications puts a tremendous burden on elected members who, in line with

other local authorities across the UK, are required to have a licensing

committee of ten to 15 members.'

Under the new licensing laws that come into force on 7 February,

the largest town and city centre pubs will pay a£1,905 initial application

fee and a£1,050 annual fee - a total of just over£3,000.

Licensing committee chair David Osborne said:

'I am pleased that some of the issues raised in the report made to government have been taken into consideration, such as increased annual charges and fees.

However, I am disappointed the fees announcement was made so late and that

there is still a potential cost implication for the city council.'

Cabinet member for local services and community

safety, Talib Hussain, said:

'Our key priority remains the safety of communities which

will be a major factor in every decision taken on licensing applications.'

The Licensing Act 2003 transfers responsibility for licensing the sale of

alcohol, the provision of public entertainment, late night refreshment and

hot food takeaways from magistrates' court to local authorities from 7

February.

Local authorities will have a nine-month transitional period from this date

to respond to their new responsibilities. The move is expected to increase

the number of premises currently dealt with annually by Birmingham City

Council from 640 to around 4,000.

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