CITY officials have warned bottle stores and bars to stop trading illegally, saying there is a “blatant disregard” of the city’s new liquor by-law by businesses that have not applied for extended hours.
Since the by-law came into effect earlier this month, only six bars in the city centre have applied to extend their trading hours.
Yesterday, the Good Hope subcouncil warned businesses in the city centre and on the Atlantic seaboard that they were putting their liquor licences at risk if they continued to trade illegally.
Good Hope subcouncil chairman Taki Amira said they had been receiving complaints about businesses opening before the authorised trading times and staying open until after their closing times.
He has called a meeting with the liquor enforcement unit to start prosecuting business owners who trade illegally. He said: “I have been warning traders that those (old) permits were only valid until December 31, 2013 and it is their responsibility to reapply to renew these. Yet very few have done so.”
The by-law allows liquor stores to apply to extend trading hours from 6pm until 8pm during the week and for Sunday trading. For bars and clubs, the by-law allows businesses to apply for a trading extension from 2am until 4am.
The city’s previous liquor by-law only allowed businesses to trade until 6pm during the week and banned Sunday trading. The city made a U-turn and allowed for extensions under the new by-law, saying the old by-law had unintended consequences and that it did not want to undermine the job creation process.
The subcouncil expected a rush of applications for extensions but only received six from bars and clubs in the city centre.
Kevin Ellman, owner of Baghdad Café in Long Street, is one of the five applicants who was granted an extension. He said between 35 and 55 percent of their core business came from trading between 2am and 4am, especially for the tourist market.
“So many places in Long Street are trading until 4am when they only have licences until 2am. They don’t get fined or closed down, and here we are paying to abide by the law,” he said.
Liquor enforcement unit assistant chief Nathan Ladegourdie said 392 liquor stores in other parts of the city had applied for extended trading hours and Sunday trading.
No fines had yet been issued in terms of the new by-law.