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LAST ORDERS?

Byline: By Mark Stead South Wales Echo

Hundreds of pubs, clubs and restaurants are likely to miss this weekend's deadline to apply for new licences - putting their future in jeopardy.

Under the Licensing Act, businesses must apply to convert their current licences by Saturday.

But 42 per cent of Cardiff's 1,200 bars, nightclubs, food outlets and off-licences have still not responded, and that could put them in danger of having to close.

The Act requires licensees to convert their licences, whether they want to extend opening hours or not, and opened a six-month window for applications in February.

However, complex forms and confusion over who needs to apply mean more than 100,000 businesses across the UK are expected to miss the August 6 deadline.

In Cardiff, 58 per cent of licensees have applied for premises licences, with between 35 and 40 per cent submitting the paperwork for their personal licence.

'We sent out final reminder notices four weeks ago and it has worked, to a degree, as we have had a rush of applications since,' said a spokeswoman for Cardiff council's licensing services department.

'But not everybody will meet the deadline. Our message is 'there is still time to apply'.'

Licensees who apply after Saturday face a more complicated time-consuming, process to get a new licence, with the public able to object to their application.

And businesses which do not have their new licence by November 24 - the date the Act comes into force - will be unable to trade and may have to close over Christmas.

'An awful lot of people will miss this deadline,' said Ian Wright, whose 28 years running the Monkstone Inn in Rumney, Cardiff, recently ended and who, as a member of the British Institute of Innkeeping, has been helping licensees with their applications.

'And I'm certain many will not be able to open after November because it can take around three months for a new licence application to be processed.

'The Government has simply not gone about this new Act in the right way and has not given councils and licensees enough time.'

For more information about the changes, call Cardiff council's licensing services department on 029 2087 1651. The situation around South Wales: VALE OF GLAMORGAN: The council has received 109 applications for premises licences. But that leaves most licensees set to miss out, with around 700 businesses needing to apply. And concern is growing about the impact of later opening hours on local communities in the Vale. MERTHYR : Alan Owen, Merthyr's principal licensing officer, said 91 applications had been received of the 185 expected. In total, 38 out of 85 pubs, 23 out of 34 clubs, 27 out of 61 off-licences and three out of five restaurants have applied. The licensing team can be contacted on 01685 725135. RCT: MORE than half of licensees in Rhondda Cynon Taf have heeded warnings and will make the Saturday deadline. The council confirmed that, so far, 354 premises applications had been received out of the 539 anticipated to be sent in. BRIDGEND: So far, 358 out of 550 premises are on course to meet the deadline. 'The council started publishing the new Act last year with a consultation period for its Statement of Licensing policy and an invitation to a free seminar in the Odeon Cinema,' said a council spokesman. CAERPHILLY: At the close of business on Monday, Caerphilly County Borough Council had received 246 applications out of a possible 560.
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 3, 2005
Words:577
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