Opinion: A glass of wine with that?

Glass of red wine being poured - Some rights reserved by moonrhinoThe main dish of the government’s current consultation on alcohol licensing in England and Wales is of course the proposal to establish a minimum price of 45p per unit for alcohol sold in supermarkets and off-licences. You may have your views about this proposal – I know I have mine (cough: illiberal and inequitable). However, the attention given to this particular proposal has overshadowed some of the side dishes served up alongside it in the consultation document, not least a proposal to review the provision of temporary event notices (TENs) to, for example, community groups.

Those of us who have organised Liberal Democrat fundraising suppers, pizza and politics evenings and AGM refreshments – and let’s face it, which of us hasn’t? – know how restrictive the current regulations are. Without a licence, which can cost a hefty proportion of the proceeds from a small-scale event organised by a small local party, it is an offence to sell participants a bottle or a glass of wine; or even to include a glass of wine as part of the price of a supper ticket. And that’s the case not just for Lib Dem events, but for many small-scale events run by community groups and small organisations year in, year out, up and down the country.

The proposal in the consultation is simply to create a simpler notification process for community groups to inform the local authority about planned events (up to a maximum number per annum) in order to reduce the bureaucracy surrounding the issuing of TENs – but of course there’s no reason to be restricted by the specific questions asked if you have other points to make or if you feel the current arrangements could be freed up in other ways without undue harm.

The consultation, which also has an option to answer online, closes on Wednesday 6 February. It would be a shame if the debate about minimum alcohol pricing meant that this chance to review the licensing of small community events was overlooked.

* Lorna Dupré is a party member in Cambridgeshire, where she works for South East Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats and the East of England regional party. She writes here in a personal capacity.

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  • David Wilkinson 27th Dec '12 - 7:54am

    The 2003 Licensing Act is another flawed example of Labour’s mentality of churning out ‘A Law a Day’ without any real thought behind it.
    How stupid can you get when you need a license for a cheese and wine event and if you were a dodgy venue and applied for a TENS only the police can object.
    The TENS for small fundraising events needs to be removed, just like the recent changes for small venues on entertainment licences.

  • As with other intoxicants (i.e. drugs) addicts will find a way to finance their habit: in the supermarket they will cut back on spending in the food aisle rather than in the drinks aisle or even turn to theft . Raising the price is unlikely to inhibit those with an uncontrollable craving but it will be unfair to pensioners and others on low incomes who enjoy the therapeutic occasional alcoholic refreshment. Far better to take the alternative route now adopted by the anti-smoking campaign in taking away temptation through advertising and easy access.

  • Increasing the margin on alcohol will mean more money available for advertising (whereas tax increases for example wouldn’t).

    Raising the price of a supermarket beer to 90p is not going to have a massive impact on pubs charging more than 2 pounds – unless this intended to be the thin end of the wedge.

    Either you are involved in politics to free people, or you are involved because you think you know better and can correct their choices for them. It’s really either one or the other.

  • @ Simon Banks

    Cough: not exactly descrimination is it.

    A totally distracting illiberal point that has taken us off the main point of why the changes to the TENs is a positive aspect that needs to be championed even if (hopfully when) the minimum pricing bit is dropped from the bill.

  • @ Stephen W

    And you evicence?

    “It will help cut consumption for those most in need of it. ”

    Well this policy will hit the poor the hardest, which is frankly a bit of a stretch to make the claims above. As alcohol consumption is falling why the need to suddenly jump in.


    If you are concerned about the level of consumption perhaps you need to comep up with a better responce than a statist responce based upon a model with well known flaws. You could start a voluntary temperance movement?

  • I don’t expect minimum pricing to happen as it is being challenged in the EU by the Bulgarian government on behalf it its wine-producers. (The government is just posturing over this, as power with this as just about everything else has now been passed to Brussels.)

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