Sunday Drinking Rule Scrapped After More Than A Century
A rule which stems from 122-years-old laws, and which enabled the sale of alcohol in Wales to be banned on a Sunday has been scrapped, the Government announced today.
The move, announced by Licensing Minister Richard Caborn, is the first step in a radical overhaul of England and Wales' Licensing Laws.
The eradication of the Welsh Sunday Opening Polls - part of the Government's Licensing Act 2003 that was passed earlier this month - modernises the Welsh licensing system, creating more choice for consumers and businesses.
The polls were last held in 1996 when every area in Wales voted for alcohol to be able to be sold on a Sunday. The next poll in any Welsh district could have been held this year.
Richard Caborn said:
"This rule dates back to Victorian times. While the whole of Wales now has Sunday opening, the rule allowing polls on closing still lingers on.
"It doesn't reflect the way people live their lives today. If people in Wales want to buy a bottle of wine from a supermarket on a Sunday, or enjoy a pint with their Sunday lunch in a pub, they should be able to do so. "
Under the old rule, if at least 500 registered voters in any Welsh county or county borough requested it, the local authority had to hold ballots in which people elected whether or not alcohol should be sold there on a Sunday.
Wales Office Minister Don Touhig added his support to the abolition of Sunday Closing Polls in Wales, saying:
"This change is long overdue. It is clear that the vast majority of people in Wales are in favour of Sunday opening and it is right that the law has been brought up to date."
The move will lead to big savings in public expenditure. The cost of running the seven yearly polls to local authorities was between £300,000 and £650,000 each time.
It will also help business by removing the uncertainty that pubs, restaurants and shops operated under. By giving them the assurance that the sale of alcohol on a Sunday will remain legal for the foreseeable future, the licensing trade believe it will help long term planning, increase investment and create more jobs in the hospitality and tourism industries.
Notes to Editors
This is the first major change to alcohol licensing introduced under the Licensing Act 2003, which became law on July 10th. The Act will, by 2005, put an end to fixed closing times and introduce a flexible alcohol, entertainment and late night refreshment licensing regime across England and Wales.
In 1989 the turn out at polls in Dwyfor, when Dwyfor became 'dry' on a Sunday, was less than 9%.
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