Home Office open consultation on Licensing Act

September 2010

Live events industry

I have to say that parts of the Licensing Act 2003 were not particularly well thought out and the Act has almost certainly damaged grass roots music – but I didn’t think the Act was that bad. The new Home Secretary, Teresa May, has other ideas and in a move to cut down on binge drinking and late night city centre violence, The Home Office announced their review of the licensing act, they have opened consultation and given it 6 weeks. Saying that she believed that the system needs to be ‘rebalanced in favour of local communities’ and promising ‘tougher action to crack down on the small number of licensed premises which cause problems’ May has outlined a number of areas of concern

a) Give licensing authorities the power to refuse licence applications or call for a licence review without requiring relevant representations from a responsible authority.

b) Remove the need for licensing authorities to demonstrate their decisions on licences ‘are necessary’ for (rather than of benefit to) the promotion of the licensing objectives.

c) Reduce the evidential burden of proof required by licensing authorities in making decisions on licence applications and licence reviews.

d) Increase the weight licensing authorities will have to give to relevant representations and objection notices from the police.

e) Simplify Cumulative Impact Policies to allow licensing authorities to have more control over outlet density.

f) Increase the opportunities for local residents or their representative groups to be involved in licensing decisions, without regard to their immediate proximity to premises.

g) Enable more involvement of local health bodies in licensing decisions by designating health bodies as a responsible authority and seeking views on making health a licensing objective.

h) Amend the process of appeal to avoid the costly practice of rehearing licensing decisions.

i) Enable licensing authorities to have flexibility in restricting or extending opening hours to reflect community concerns or preferences.

j) Repeal the unpopular power to establish Alcohol Disorder Zones and allow licensing authorities to use a simple adjustment to the existing fee system to pay for any additional policing needed during late-night opening.

k) Substantial overhaul of the system of Temporary Event Notices to give the police more time to object, enable all responsible authorities to object, increase the notification period and reduce the number that can be applied for by personal licence holders.

l) Introduce tougher sentences for persistent underage sales.

m) Trigger automatic licence reviews following persistent underage sales.

n) Ban the sale of alcohol below cost price.

o) Enable local authorities to increase licensing fees so that they are based on full cost recovery.

p) Enable licensing authorities to revoke licences due to non-payment of fees.

q) Consult on the impact of the Mandatory Licensing Conditions Order and whether the current conditions should be removed.

Justin Argent, the chair of Cambridge’s Strawberry Fair commented that areas of concern for the events industry include

  • Increased licence fees
  • Enabling licensing authorities to repeal licences for non-payment of fees
  • Removing the rule that objectors must be ‘in the vicinity’
  • Requiring greater weight to be given to police representations and objections
  • Enabling licensing authorities to refuse grants or trigger reviews without the need for representations
  • Introducing greater restrictions on Temporary Event Notices
  • Extending closure orders from 48 hours to 7 days
  • Introducing an additional levy on premises opening late to fund policing
  • Banning sales of alcohol below cost price
  • Enabling authorities to consider the impact of a licence on public health when exercising their functions.

The consultation period is only six weeks (already passing), which presents a challenge for some operators to respond to over the summer months.




http://www.thepublican.com/story.asp?sectioncode=7&storycode=67586&c=1 (with link to consultation)


ADDENDUM  The Publican reports that some key parts of the government’s licensing regime shake-up are now unlikely to become law until 2012 “at the earliest. Local authority co-ordinating body Lacors has had confirmation from the Home Office that any direct changes to the 2003 Licensing Act will not become law until at least 2012. This means controversial proposals such as making public health a licensing objective and giving health bodies a greater say over licensing decisions would be delayed. However, the majority of the coalition’s plans, such as introducing a late-night levy, are still on track to become law by November 2011. http://www.thepublican.com/story.asp?sectioncode=7&storycode=67745&c=1

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