Most Brighton and Hove pubs could be allowed to sell takeaway drinks

Most pubs and bars will be able to sell takeaway drinks from early next month if a new government bill becomes law.

The change is part of a package measures announced by the government on Thursday (June 25).

The government said that the aim was to “help businesses get back on their feet and get people back in their jobs safely”.

Ministers promised a “simpler licensing process for outdoor seating for pubs, restaurants and cafés”, with “councils encouraged to reduce red tape and create more outdoor markets”.

They said that the “government plans to support outdoor dining as part of efforts to help the economy bounce back from coronavirus”.

And they added that it was part of a “comprehensive plan to revive high streets, support the hospitality industry and help get people back to work”.

Brighton and Hove City Council licensing manager Jim Whitelegg said that takeaway drinks would have to be sold in secure containers

He told the council’s Licensing Committee about the proposed measures when members held a “virtual” meeting earlier this week.

MPs are expected to vote on the “temporary changes to licensing laws” on Monday (29 June).

Mr Whitelegg said that the new rules – reducing the need for businesses to apply to the council for licence changes – were expected to remain in place for a year.

The proposals are intended to help pubs, bars and restaurants which will be among the businesses hardest hit by coronavirus social distancing measures.

Conservative councillor Dee Simson said that a number of premises with an “on-sales” licence had been applying for an “off-sales” licence since pubs, bars and restaurants were forced to close in March.

She said that she was “nervous” about the proposed changes.

Mr Whitelegg said that it was early days and added that the government’s bill – or draft law – made “interesting reading”.

He said that if MPs voted through the change in law, any business that was allowed to serve alcohol on its premises could automatically sell takeaway drinks and offer deliveries.

There would be exceptions, he added, including premises that had had an application for an “off-sales” licence turned down in the past three years.

Mr Whitelegg said that a number of businesses had applied for licence “variations” to be allowed to sell takeaways and offer deliveries since the lockdown started.

He said: “An applicant might take the view that they can withdraw their application and get ‘off-sales’.

“If that application was refused then the exemption won’t apply to them.”

He also said that it would be possible to review a licence if a business was believed to be breaking the rules.

Other than that, the council’s hands were likely to be tied until September next year.

The government also said today: “More pubs, restaurants and cafés will be able to serve customers outdoors.

“The government will simplify and reduce the costs of the licensing process for outdoor seating and stalls, making it easier for people to safely drink and dine outside.

“Proposed planning freedoms will mean that outdoor markets, pop-up car boot sales or summer fairs will not need a planning application which will transform the way people shop and socialise.

“Pubs and restaurants will be able to use car parks and terraces as dining and drinking areas, using their existing seating licences.”

The council’s Licensing Committee was told that the relaxed rules around outdoor seating could bring further changes to places such as George Street, in Hove.