Pub opening times for England’s World Cup matches under review

Theresa May considering 'national order to relax licensing hours' despite Home Office's initial fears about public disorder

Pubs and bars could be allowed to sell alcohol until 1am on the nights of England's World Cup games this summer under proposals being considered by Theresa May, the home secretary.

May launched a two-week consultation on the idea of extending opening hours after David Cameron ordered a rethink – despite her department's initial fears about the scope for public disorder.

In a statement to parliament, the home secretary said she was considering "a national order to relax licensing hours during the Fifa World Cup in June and July 2014, or whether to leave this as a local decision using the existing temporary event notice system".

Suggesting she still has some reservations about the policy, May said the government was "mindful of the need to strike a balance between the risks that late-night drinking can lead to increased crime and disorder and public nuisance, and reducing the burden on the those wishing to celebrate the Fifa World Cup."

The consultation will look at a range of possible later opening hours – but no later than 1am – and the dates and areas in which they might be appropriate.

Previously, Home Office minister Norman Baker rejected calls by the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) for their members to be allowed to stay open late to show England's opening game against Italy, which kicks off at 11pm on 14 June. He left pubs with the option of applying individually to local authorities for a licence extension through the temporary event notice system at a cost of £21 each.

Baker was overruled by the prime minister, who made a statement on his Twitter feed ordering the Home Office to think again.

If approved by the department, the national order would be similar to those put in place for celebrations during the royal wedding and diamond jubilee to mark occasions of "exceptional international, national or local significance".

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of BBPA, said: "We welcome this consultation as an opportunity to make clear the wish of publicans, the wider industry and, most importantly, England fans to enjoy World Cup 2014 in their local pub – the next best thing to being there.

"Over the next fortnight I encourage publicans and fans to make their voice heard by responding to the consultation." © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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