The reform of licensing law in England and Wales will add more red-tape to the process and “disproportionately burden” the responsible majority of hospitality operators, a licensing specialist has warned. Making its submission as part of the consultation process for the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill, Sheffield’s John Gaunt & Partners said despite the government stating that further regulation would not be effective in engendering greater personal responsibility when it comes to the general public and drinking, the overhaul to licensing laws as stands would heap further red tape on the on-trade. John Gaunt added that despite minsters’ publically stated position that the majority of licensed premises are “well run businesses which provide a valuable service to their local communities”, the measures proposed in the bill will hit this same majority hardest. In its submission the solicitors firm raises concern over the conflict of interest that will transform Local Authorities into both licensing bodies and responsible authorities (in effect making them judge and jury). The removal of the vicinity rule for licensing objections will likely lead to more erroneous challenges, appeals and cost to the process, as will relaxing the burden of evidence on Local Authorities when making licensing decisions. Operators have until 18 January to make their views on the bill known.