"Longer Licensing Hours: One Step Closer To Permanent Relaxation On This And Every New Year's Eve, " Says Kim Howells

Pubs will be able to open for an unbroken 36-hour period on New Year's Eve this year and for all future New Year's Eves if Parliament approves Government proposals to relax licensing hours, Minister for Licensing Kim Howells announced today.

"Longer opening hours will give consumers more freedom to choose how and when to celebrate New Year's Eve and it will give the industry the chance to give their customers what they want," Kim Howells said.

If the Order is approved, it would mean that all future New Year's Eves pubs and clubs could open between 11.00am on New Year's Eve and 11.00pm New Year's Day: an unbroken 36-hour period. 

Premises set to benefit from relaxed hours include pubs, nightclubs and discos and registered members' clubs including, Labour, Liberal and Conservative clubs.

Kim Howells said:

"I believe that people will show the kind of good spirit which they exhibited last year and at the Millennium, when a similar relaxation took place, and proved successful. 

"If the Order is approved by Parliament, police, local authorities and local residents would have the right to seek restriction orders from their local magistrates' courts which would, if granted, prevent premises likely to cause disorder or disturbance from benefiting from the longer hours.  Five days notice of making an application must be given.

"I hope that people will start thinking now about whether they want to seek restriction orders in respect of particular premises.  If Parliament approves this Order, it will be brought into force on 20 December.  Applicants anxious about the longer drinking hours will need to lodge their applications before the courts on that day to ensure that there is time to consider them."

Notes to Editors

1. Before the regulatory reform order can be made, it must by given further scrutiny by the Select Committees responsible for Regulatory Reform in Parliament and both the House of Commons and the Lords must approve the Order.  This further scrutiny cannot commence by law until 17 December.

2. Local magistrates' courts' Chief Executives will be able to advise local residents exactly how an application can be made, which are identical to the procedures put in place for the Golden Jubilee this year.  Details of local residents' rights under the Order can be found on the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's website http://www.culture.gov.uk/

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