PLANS to abolish personal alcohol licences have been criticised by councillors during a meeting of North Devon Council's Licensing Committee.
A Home Office consultation paper proposes to simplify alcohol licensing by removing the requirement for personal licences.
Under the current system any business selling alcohol must have at least one personal alcohol licence holder on premises.
Speaking at last week's meeting, Councillor Philip Webb strongly criticised the plans, and called for the current system to be strengthened.
He said: "When I became a personal licence holder some 10 years ago now it was because of my involvement with my football club and it became a requirement that I must get a personal licence.
"I learnt a lot about the sale of alcohol and how to deal with certain situations. It really opened my eyes.
"I believe that everybody who serves alcohol to a certain level should undergo the same training.
"I don't quite understand why we would go away from a system that has professionalised the bar trade."
As part of the proposed system, licensing committees would be given powers to impose additional requirements for local businesses selling alcohol.
However Sam Moyse, chairman of the South Molton and District Licensee Association, said the proposal posed a risk to the industry.
He said: "We are at a time when people in most industries are having to up-skill to stay in their job. This is happening throughout all industries.
"The legislation that introduced personal licences was all about up-skilling the industry.
"The industry has had bad press for years and it doesn't need bad press for being under skilled."
Sam, who has been publican at the Old Courthouse in Chulmleigh for the past 18 years, said most businesses had benefited following the introduction of personal licences.
He said: "In my premises I insist that people working here are personal licence holders.
"I think it's important from a valuing of staff – at least we can give people qualifications.
"I also know that when I'm on holiday or in bed that I have someone that knows what they are doing running this business and running it properly."
Katy Nicholls, North Devon Council's lead officer for licensing, said the committee would respond to the consultation, calling for the rejection of the Home Office's plan.