Hospitality Ulster calls on SoS for fair deal on licensing

Hospitality Ulster CEO Colin Neill
Hospitality Ulster CEO Colin Neill

Industry group Hospitality Ulster has lobbied at Westminster for an end to what it calls ‘knee jerk planning’ and a redrafting of outdated liquor licensing laws.

CEO Coin Neill met separately with the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Karen Bradley and Labour Shadow Minister Tony Lloyd on Monday calling on them to urgently intervene on Northern Ireland’s outdated liquor licensing legislation.

The meetings took place amid concern within the hospitality sector and major representative bodies in Northern Ireland over recent moves by the the Department for Communities to alter legislation in relation to the forthcoming British Open in July.

Hospitality Ulster has led the charge to convince elected representative to overhaul the outdated liquor legislation to benefit the sector, enhance the visitor and tourist experience and the wider economy. Whilst there has been significant backing for the changes, little action has been under taken after the collapse of the Assembly.

“Whilst we welcome the fact that the Open is coming to Northern Ireland, we need to look at the whole picture and not just pander to the company running the event because they want to sell more drink outside of the current permitted hours,” said Mr Neill.

“We made it very clear to the Secretary of State and the Shadow Secretary of State that this small change does absolutely nothing for local pubs and restaurants who will be missing out on the revenue.

“Once The Open packs up, the hospitality sector will be left to operate with the same outdated laws that it has struggled with for years.

“Just because the big boys roll into town and complain, our civil servants are bending over backwards to rush through legislation even though there is an entire Bill sitting on the shelf ready to go that will address many, if not all of these issues.

“They need to listen to the rate paying businesses here.

“If this element of the legislation can be changed on a whim, then the wider issues can be dealt with. It couldn’t be more obvious.”