Andy Allen MLA, the Ulster Unionist spokesperson on the committee for Communities at Stormont, has said that the new Liquor Licensing bill which has just been tabled is currently not fit for purpose and does not offer the necessary modernisation of the law in Northern Ireland.
Speaking during the second stage reading of the Licensing and Registration of Clubs (Amendment) Bill, Mr Allen said:
“Modernising licensing laws in Northern Ireland could actually help to revive the night time economy in many of our towns and cities.
“The reform of licensing laws here has been doing the rounds for at least 12 years. However, the Bill as currently presented is not fit for purpose and needs radical amendment. What we have presented before us today does not go far enough.
“One change to the law which is badly needed, is recognition for so called micro-breweries, producers of local, home grown craft beers and ciders. These local companies are being massively restricted by our current licensing laws, and there is nothing in the Bill before us to give them any help whatsoever. They cannot sell their wares on their premises, nor can they avail of the opportunities to sell their produce at Farmers’ Markets or shows.
“Surely now is the time to introduce a new category of licence to permit small brewers to apply for permission to sell at source, as well as an option to apply for occasional extensions to sell at local events. Given that the BBC Good Food show is taking place at the Waterfront Hall in a few weeks, this is an issue which should have been dealt with long ago.”