Pubs face New Year opening hitch

Pubs across the region may mistakenly open illegally on New Year's Eve if they fall foul of the new licensing laws.

Pubs across the region may mistakenly open illegally on New Year's Eve if they fall foul of the new licensing laws.

As the last day of the year falls on a Sunday all pubs will have to shut at 10.30pm unless they applied for an extension on their licence application earlier this year or applied for a temporary event notice (TEN).

In previous years the government has issued an order around two weeks before the date to allow all pubs to open past midnight but since the new Licensing Act came into effect last year landlords have had to apply themselves.

Last year many licensees mistakenly opened illegally for New Year celebrations thinking the rights were automatically transferred with the new regime.

And it is thought that some pub landlords may have slipped up again this year and not realised that they had to specify if they wanted their punters to be able to see in the New Year at their pumps.

Nigel Burrows, licensing officer for Breckland Council, said that premises will be breaking the law if they open without the correct licence.

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“Many pubs that applied last year have included it on their licence application this year,” he said. “But if they don't have it and stay open late it will be a breach. The police have a copy of the licences and the hours but this is the landlords' responsibility and they should have read their licences carefully because they vary from pub to pub.

“It is too late to apply now and although many have already applied it is possible that some may have missed the deadline.”

The licensing team at Norwich City Council has received several enquiries from landlords needing clarification of the situation, unsure if they were covered.

But a spokesman for Norfolk Police said they were confident that licensees and door supervisors would be working to a high standard.

She said: “We do have lots of extra officers on patrol and their first priority is to protect and reassure the public and deal with offences proactively and positively.

“Our licensing department regularly carries out visits and checks to ensure that pubs and clubs are being run to a high standard, therefore on busy nights like New Year's Eve we already know there is a high standard of management in place.”

Martin Rawlings, director of pub and leisure at the British Beer and Pub Association, criticized the government for not automatically carrying over the New Year extension with grandfather rights.

“It's daft. It's bureaucracy gone mad once again,” he said.