Under the 2003 Licensing Act, the City government is obliged to review and revise its licensing policy, touching upon the activities of all pubs, clubs, restaurants, and other places of entertainment and shops where alcoholic drinks are bought and sold. The City Council website has made the draft policy document available for examination from for a consultation period running from 1st August to 1st October 2007, before it is adopted by the City Council.
This is not a controversial document. It is well thought out, and addresses many common concerns arising from the culture of excess and debauchery on which both day and night-time city centre economy appears to thrive today. If it has any short-comings, these may indeed come out during the consultation period, or they may not.
The deliberations that went into producing fifteen pages of the document reflect the wide range of organisations with responsibilities touching upon the safe and effective running of every aspect of entertainment, leisure and public order in the City.
However, the list of consultation partners doesn't extend to other retailers or people who habitually worship in one or other of the churches of the area affected in central Cardiff, or indeed those of different cultures who take issue with the levels of alcohol products being sold.
The views of retailers will certainly have found representation through contributions by the police and Community Safety Partnership. But it is less certain that churches' views will have been represented, any more than those of voluntary agencies dealing with problems of alcohol and drug abuse. These organisations do have an opportunity to comment on the draft policy document, but have played no part in its formation. Whether or not they could have made a constructive contribution to policy formation remains unknown, because they were not asked or, if asked, not listed. People with potentially critical perspectives cannot be presumed to be obstructive in their contribution to shaping a policy, but they do offer a perspective all too readily overlooked, and may be able to offer helpful insights on the containment of social problems arising. But only if asked.