The basics of how pubs and restaurants are allowed to operate in London is 'under threat' from a crackdown on noise and outside drinking. That is the view of Clare Eames, a licensing solicitor with Poppleston Allen, who heads up the firm's London office. She believes more pubs and restaurants will face enforcement from local councils as the public become aware of the consequences for licence non-compliance. She said: “If a member of the public is being disturbed by a licensed premises then they have the right to challenge whether or not they should operate in the way that they currently are. “It's a huge upheaval – we have had the new licensing act which cost the operators millions, then all the smoking ban and the resulting issues with sales. “Now, just the basics of how they are allowed to operate is under threat.” The problem of noise from outside drinkers has been exacerbated in London because of the smoking ban and more licensees have made use of their outside space – especially in Soho. “The problem with this issue is there is no easy solution, “ said Eames. “With outside drinking there is very little that you can do to combat the problem. “The people who are complaining are the local residents, who now have more rights than they used to and can call for a review of a pub's license themselves. “Enforcement over noise is now a short, sharp shock.” Eames also said there is a danger that other people could 'piggyback' a complaint about a license. “The complaint might be the right and fair thing to do,” she added. “But for the operator the threat of enforcement over noise from outside drinkers is like the Sword of Damocles hanging over themselves. I think the system is open to abuse and is arbitrary.” Eames said she was aware of one local authority where a member of the licensing committee was advising members of the public on how to complain about outside drinking noise issues. “The problem is made worse in Soho, because the pub has been there for a hundred years but so has the house. It wasn't planned, it isn't a new development and there is a definite conflict,” she said.