The Home Office has rejected claims made in the Evening Standard earlier this week that all late-night drinking licences will be banned during next summer’s London Olympics. The newspaper reported that “millions of visitors will be unable to enjoy a late-night meal or a drink in London next summer after ministers ruled out allowing all licensed premises to stay open until 1am, as they did after the Royal Wedding in April — when pubs took an extra £600 million.” It said that police were concerned that later opening would cause an extra strain on stretched resources. However, a spokesman for the Home Office told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser this was not the case. She said: “It is wrong to suggest we are restricting pubs from opening past 11pm. We don’t have the power to restrict licensing officers. “What we are not doing is a total relaxation of licensing hours for the Olympics, as happened for the Royal Wedding. This is because of concerns with the police. “If you already have a late licence, that won’t change, and we would advise all pubs that don’t have one to apply now.” A relaxation could however be in place for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, as reported last week. But British Beer and Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmonds questioned why there was not going to be a consultation on extended hours for an event that is “clearly of national importance”. She has lobbied ministers to hold a consultation on whether there could be extended hours for two four-day periods around the opening and closing weekends of both the Olympics and Paralympics. “I can not understand why the Home Office will not even consult on this. I have been in Beijing for the Olympics and Delhi and Melbourne for the Commonwealth Games and there were no problems associated with late night opening and anti-social behaviour. “Surely the Olympics and Paralympics are events of national importance.” Jonathan Smith, of licensing law firm Poppleston Allen, said: “Government does have the legal power under the licensing act to have a complete national relaxation and some of the trade organisations have lobbied to get a complete relaxation for you, but that is not going to happen. “That is why you need to start planning early. Just because it is the Olympics, that is not a ground for getting your later licences.” Smith added that licensees would be well advised to submit their applications by April 2012 when new licensing measures are expected to come into force under the Police & Social Responsbility Act. Environmental Health Officers will be able to reject Temporary Event Notices (TENs) on public nuisance grounds, whilst licensing authorities could refuse applications on the grounds that is “appropriate” to do so, as opposed to “necessary”, which Smith says will make it “a lot easier” for councils to reject applications. Novus Leisure chief executive, and chair of Westminster Council’s Late Night Entertainment group, Steve Richards, said: “A lot of pubs don’t have the resources, the people, the security, or the set-up to do late licences. I support the police view, each case is going to have to be looked at individually. “From our point of view we are the largest operator in the West End and we don’t want people turning up to our bars drunk at 1am because they are drinking more in a pub.” A Westminster Council spokesman said: “It is something we consider (late night licences) on a case-by-case basis. We are keeping an open mind about this but having said that we are slightly surprised we have not had more applications.”