Major overhaul planned for Licensing Act06/04/2017
On the 25th May 2016 a Select Committee was established to evaluate the impact of the Licensing Act 2003, just over 11 years after its implementation. In late June the Committee called from evidence to be submitted by 2nd September (https://www.parliament.uk/documents/lords-committees/Licensing-Act-2003/call-for-evidence-licensing-act-2003.pdf).
Evidence was called from anybody who has involvement with the Licensing Act 2003, and the stated intention was to look at whether the Act has achieved its aim of permitting greater freedom and flexibility for operators whilst balancing the various interests of those involved in and affected by licensed premises. The intention of the Committee was to report on their findings, with a series of recommendations. It was to consider also the effectiveness of various legislative amendments, which the report described as ‘unfortunate…piecemeal amendments’.
That report has now been published. A link to the summary of the report, as published is below, as is a link to the full report:
Summary of Conclusions and Recommendations – https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201617/ldselect/ldlicact/146/14617.htm#_idTextAnchor232
Some of the main points:
- Subject to Scotland introducing the MUP, and depending on its success, to follow suit in England and Wales;
- They also urged the government to address excessive consumption of alcohol through pricing and taxation;
- To consider the levels of training and experience appropriate to Committee members sitting to consider applications;
- To launch a trial in a few pilot areas, following discussions, which transfers the responsibilities of the licensing and sub licensing committee to the planning committee;
- To launch a trial in a few pilot areas, following discussions, which transfers the responsibilities of the licensing and sub licensing committee to the planning committee, with appeals to go to the planning inspectorate instead of the magistrates court;
- That Licensing Authorities should explain appeals which they settle and publish reasons, as well as considering whether such action is appropriate in light of the original decision and its effect on residents, for example.
- To amend the hearing regulations so that committees are only quorate with three members and their absolute discretion by curtailed by removal of reg 21 and 23;
- To amend the s.182 guidance to provide a clear structure for a hearing (who speaks first etc) and to set out the Chairs responsibilities to regulate the membership of the committee to avoid conflicts of interest;
- To expedite appeals of Summary Reviews where a licence is revoked and the licensees livelihood is at stake;
- To remove the requirement to advertise applications in the press, but to keep the blue notice which should be monitored more closely;
- That licensing and planning should coordinate their systems, and both committees should consider the decision of the other and where appropriate follow that decision with the s.182 guidance to affect this change;
- To add some further licensing objectives, such as the compliance with the Equality Act 2010. They rejected the ‘Promotion of Health and Well being’.
- To grant the power to ban super strength alcohol across a local authority;
- To look at similar measures to those introduced in Scotland to regulate the off trade;
- To amend Temporary Events notices so licensing authorities can also now object;
- To prevent the use of numerous TEN’s, operating side by side to facilitate larger events, by granting a right to object on that basis and also to provide greater clarity in the s.182 guidance;
- To ensure greater information about TEN’s is retained, and to use the GOV.UK platform as a means of achieving this;
- To address a perceived diluting of experienced licensing officers in some constabularies, with a recommendation to have central training organised at the College of Policing;
- To reconsider the reliance placed on some police evidence, merely because it has come from the police, and to ensure such evidence is still properly scrutinised. Accordingly, they recommend removing paragraph 9.12 from the S.182 Guidance;
- To place Cumulative Impact on a statutory footing and remove it from the s.182 Guidance;
- To amend the s.182 Guidance to clarity police closure powers;
- To clarify the position on interim steps following summary review;
- A recommendation to repeal EMRO’s, since none have been implemented;
- To make a number of recommendations regarding the Night Time Economy in London, in relation to a Night Czar and the Night Tube:
- A recommendation to abolish the late night levy, and a suggestion that the Late Night Levy be evaluated for its effectiveness. Further, that no further levy’s be implemented until the points raised in the Report are addressed;
- That if the Levy is retained, the split be amended from 70/30 split to a 50/50 split between the police and licensing authority and its legality be reconsidered in light of the EU Services Directive;
- Recognising the effectiveness of Business Improvement Districts and various initiatives such as Best Bar None;
- A recommendation to adopt the ‘Agent of Change’ principle across not just planning, but licensing as well;
- To consider application fees in light of Hemming, particularly multipliers, and to devolve licensing fees to local authorities;
- To make improvements to the GOV.UK system for online applications so that it might be more fully adopted, and that it work correctly;
- To create a national database of personal licence holders, which can be cross referenced by the local authority and the courts, and linked to the Police National Computer;
- Not to allow local authorities to suspend of revoke licences where business rates are unpaid;
- To allow some changes to help members clubs, such as abolishing the two day waiting period
- To repeal section 173, so that licenses are required at airports and ports (licensing airside and portside venues);
- To reconsider how section 141 of the Licensing Act 2003 is enforced in terms of drunkenness, since it affects large parts of the late night economy.
It should be noted that the government do not have to implement any of the recommended changes, but they must consider them. A great deal of effort has been dedicated to this exercise, so we believe it is certainly more than just an interesting development. There will almost certainly be changes to come out of this report, and some of them will be welcomed by operators and authorities alike. However, there is trepidation. The Licensing Team at Mincoffs will be monitoring this closely. Please contact Matt Foster, Head of Licensing and Gaming on 0191 212 7702 or firstname.lastname@example.org for advice.