Municipalities are not ready for inspection

According to the Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy (STAP) and  the Koninklijke Horeca Nederland the municipalities are unable to maintain the new Licensing and Catering Act that will take effect on January 1 of next year.One of the measures in the Licensing and Catering Act is that the age at which drinking is legal shifts from 16 to 18.

Since January 1, 2013, the responsibility for the maintenance of Alcohol policy shifted from the Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority to the municipalities. This means that municipalities should ensure that in the restaurant business, in sports clubs, and community centers, for example, no alcohol is served to teenagers younger than 18 years, as of January 1st, 2014.

Most towns barely started planning how they want to go about it. They will never be ready on time, reports Wim van Dalen, director of STAP.

Koninklijke Horeca Nederland thinks a particular problem lies with smaller towns. Oftentimes a boa (special investigating officer) may be, for example, a parking attendant who is allotted a few hours a week to inspect catering facilities. There are  60,000 to 70,000 such facilities to be checked and in addition to that sports clubs and community centers, to name some, also need to be inspected. That just can't be done with the current capacity.

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The Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG) disagrees with the criticism. The NVWA last year had 80 inspectors covering the whole country and municipalities are training 400 boas this year, reports Hoorn mayor Onno van Veldhuizen on behalf of the VNG.

Van Veldhuizen recognizes compliance is poor. He even calls it 'dramatic'. In Hoorn 8 percent of catering facilities still serve alcohol to minors. He understands the concerns of STAP and the Koninklijke Horeca Nederland very well. It is also a very daunting task, but one the municipalities keep working on.