LOCAL pubs have been backed in Parliament this week which supports extending licensing hours so venues can open their doors for national events at short notice.

Last summer, many Bath pubs were unable to open early when England’s Lionesses made it to the final of the Women’s World Cup because Parliament was not sitting and could not grant the licensing extensions. Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, backed local pubs in supported the Licensing Hours Extensions Bill to review these measures. 

The Bill aims to amend the Licensing Act 2003 so that licensing hours orders can be made by a negative resolution statutory instrument. This means that pubs can have their licensing hours extended for national events at short notice even when Parliament is not sitting. 

Mrs Hobhouse hailed the importance of this Bill for ensuring that pubs could open their doors to customers for national events in order to support the thriving hospitality industry in the city. She praised the many sporting events in Bath which garner much attention such as Bath City Rugby Club and Bath Football Club.

She said it was important that every fan can watch and support their team and that removing barriers to extending pub licensing hours would help to enable this. 

However, Mrs Hobhouse emphasised that this was not the only change that needed to be implemented in the Licensing Agreement. She said that what the clause would fix was only a small part of an already inadequate statutory framework. In 2022, the Lords’ Liaison Committee found that flaws in the licensing system remained unresolved and that significant reform was required. 

Mrs Hobhouse added: “If we had this Bill in place last summer, pubs across Bath would not have missed out on customers, and fans would not have missed out on the thrilling atmosphere before the Women’s World Cup Final. 

“Ensuring pubs can have flexible hours for national events is vital for maintaining our thriving hospitality sector in Bath. This Bill goes some way to improving the law around licences but we must still consider whether it is fit for purpose on the whole.”