I RECENTLY called on the UK Government to include pubs in Wales in the extension of licensing hours during the forthcoming football World Cup.
Licensing arrangements for premises in England will be relaxed for the duration of the World Cup, meaning that pubs can stay open late. Whist in Wales, individual pubs will need to apply for a Temporary Event Notice.
I recently raised Parliamentary Questions to the Minister at the Home Office, Norman Baker. The Secretary of State is able to relax opening hours for licensed premises to mark occasions of ‘exceptional international, national or local significance’.
The response confirmed that the Government considered England football team’s participation in the World Cup as an event of national significance to England. He also confirmed that 77 per cent of respondents to the Government’s consultation believed that any national relaxation of licensing hours should apply to England and Wales. There are many people in Wales who will want to be able to watch the game with a pint. Locally, pubs have also expressed a desire to remain open.
There are many English people living in Barry and the Vale and across Wales that will want to support their national team. There may well also be a number of Welsh people who will want to watch the game to cheer on whoever is playing England.
I will be supporting England, as I suspect the vast majority of people will, but there is nothing wrong in a little local rivalry and banter, as we regularly see in a Premiership derby.
All I know is that Wales wants to be able to watch the games, possibly enjoying a beer, in the same way as in England.
I do not accept the Minister’s response that individual Welsh pubs should provide for their own licence extensions. There is a cost and a process involved and it is unfair to Welsh pubs to bear this burden when English premises are being granted support.
There is also a significant economic issue. Too many pubs have closed and many remain under threat. This would be a welcome boost to the industry. There will clearly be economic benefits to these amendments and pubs in Wales deserve the same treatment and need the same support.
I have since met Teresa May MP to ask her to intervene. I underlined these points and am pleased that she has agreed to look into it.