Licence backlash prompts council notices ‘re-think’

February 2015

Live events sector


Adur District Council and it’s licensing unit are facing criticism over the way it handled the application for a SJM promoted music festival. The Shoreham Herald reports that residents in Shoreham were furious to find out about plans for a large-scale music festival at Shoreham Airport ‘by word of mouth’.

They felt Adur District Council should have made public notices more visible on site and said they found out ‘by chance’ only days before the deadline for comments.

One local resident, Liz Coward, wrote to the paper saying that “the licensing unit provided, at best, poor advice throughout the SJM Ltd application for a music festival.” With Ms Coward detailing that she was given the wrong closing date for representations, December 4th not 5th, was told that objectors could only read out their letters at the hearing “when, in fact, they were entitled to put their case and question the applicant” and that she was also told that the application could not be refused, ‘because there was a big legal team behind the applicant who knew what they were doing’. Ms Coward aso says that the council website contained a statement that the councillors could not take into account ‘traffic management, congestion and medical provision’ at the hearing, when the opposite is true.

The backlash from residents has lead to Adur and Worthing councils saying that they were now looking at changing the way applications are made public in the future, for example through social media. Neil Hopkins, head of communications, expanded on the plans. “We are always striving to improve our communications,” he said. “In terms of licensing applications specifically, we already exceed the required statutory minimum by putting application details on our website” adding “However, as part of a wider customer-focussed review, we’re looking at all other methods of improving how we communicate with residents and businesses throughout the Adur and Worthing area, across all areas of the councils’ business” and a number of options are currently being evaluated, to see which will be most effective, both in terms of cost and for the widest reach into the community.

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