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Keep up pressure in licensing campaign, trade is told

The UK drinks trade should keep the pressure on in the campaign to exempt wine and spirit education courses from the 2003 Licensing Act – or the consequences could be dire, WSTA chief executive Jeremy Beadles has warned.

Companies will face rising training costs and course organisers may struggle to find venues if wine and spirit training courses have to obtain licences, Beadles said. "The message to the trade is keep up the pressure, because if we fall off this now, everyone will be moaning about it in a year’s time – and having to absorb the extra cost of it."

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), which has 204 accredited venues teaching 9,000 students a year, will face a bill of £86,000 for licences in the first year – an amount which could double with additional costs such as legal advice and advertising applications.

"If we’ve got people running courses for companies, then their costs will have to go up to cover this," said Beadles. "As a trainer, you can’t absorb the kind of levels of money that we’re talking about."

He added that educational establishments might be reluctant to apply for a licence, making the finding of course venues more and more difficult in the future.

The WSTA has been pressing the Government for a clear interpretation of the Licensing Act, which has been the subject of conflicting guidance from central and local government lawyers. Hundreds of letters have been written to local MPs urging that wine and spirit courses be exempted under the act, and the WSTA is currently awaiting a response from Government.

© db 1st August 2006

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