City Council gears up for new Licensing Act

Winchester City Council is gearing itself up for the huge task of dealing with applications under the new Licensing Act when they will have to deal with over 500 premises licences and over 700 personal licences.

From Monday 7 February existing licensees will be able to apply to convert to licences under the new Act, although these won't take effect until November. At the same time, applicants can apply to vary their licence, by changing hours or adding other activities such as entertainment.

Those premises who do not want to vary any of their hours or activities can apply for their new licences under "Grandfather Rights" and if they are not changing anything, the licence will be automatically issued.

The Council will have to convert around 500 Premises Licences, for pubs, hotels, off licences, restaurants, theatres, cinemas, village halls and even some fast food outlets. They will also issue over 700 Personal Licences to enable individuals to sell alcohol from those premises.

Cllr Robert Johnston, Chairman of the Council's Licensing and Regulation Committee, said that contrary to recent press coverage, the new Act does not automatically permit 24-hour drinking for pubs and clubs.

"Any licensee who wants to extend their hours will have to apply to the Council and must set out in their application the steps they will be taking to deal with problems which might arise. Local residents and businesses can make representations to the Council in response to applications, and we will then hold a public hearing to consider these representations.

"We will carefully examine all applications to strike a balance between the benefits offered by licensed premises and the interests of local residents who may be affected by them."

Applications to vary existing licences will have to be advertised on the premises, and in a local newspaper. Residents will have 28 days to submit representations to the Council in response to an application. The application forms, and details of how to apply or make representations, will be available on the City Council's website, or from the Licensing Section at the City Offices, Tel: 01962 848188 or email