Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Peter Lilley is backing local village halls which are threatened by the new Licensing Act. He has taken up the issue on behalf of local village halls around Hitchin and Harpenden who have told him they face serious extra costs and workload to get a licence or will be unable to hold more than 12 events with alcohol a year.

    Peter Lilley said: “Functions such as weddings are the lifeblood of village halls all round Hitchin and Harpenden. To restrict the halls to just 12 such functions in a year will severely affect their finances. This piece of ill-thought out legislation is a classic case of the law of unforeseen consequences.

    “The initial cost of obtaining a full premises licence can be up to ?635 followed by an annual fee of ?350. At least one village hall considered the option of somehow converting themselves into a private club but then all those attending would have to become members two days before the event they wish to participate in. They concluded that would be unworkable.?

    “As one member of a local Village Hall Committee told me: ?All these options will place an extra workload on committee members who already spend a considerable amount of voluntary time ensuring that the village hall is available and run in a competent manner?.

    “Another correspondent tells me ?a play group holding a wine and cheese event will now be driven into using a private house?.