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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee held on 01/12/2005
Licensing Act 2003 - Future Enforcement and Staffing Structures



Summary & Purpose
This report sets out proposals for the next stage of implementing the 2003 Licensing Act and the transfer of responsibility for liquor licensing to Waverley. The proposals have significant environmental implications, and also have major resource implications.

APPENDIX A

Waverley Borough Council

LICENSING AND REGULATORY Committee - 22ND NOVEMBER 2005

Title:
LICENSING ACT 2003 - FUTURE ENFORCEMENT AND
STAFFING STRUCTURES

[Wards Affected: All]

Note pursuant to Section 100B(5) of the Local Government Act 1972

Annexe 2 to this report contains exempt information by virtue of which the public is likely to be excluded during the item to which the report relates, as specified in Paragraph -1- of Part I of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972, viz:-

Information relating to a particular employee, former employee or applicant to become an employee of, or a particular office-holder, former office-holder or applicant to become an office-holder under, the Authority.

Summary and purpose:

This report sets out proposals for the next stage of implementing the 2003 Licensing Act and the transfer of responsibility for liquor licensing to Waverley. The proposals have significant environmental implications, and also have major resource implications.

Environmental implications:

Controlling licensed premises has significant implications for the environment in both town centres and in villages which have licensed premises. The experience so far at hearings into licensing variations has shown that some residents are suffering significant levels of environmental nuisance.

Social/community implications:

The Government aim in the legislation was to stimulate the night-time economy and also to liberalise restrictions on licensing hours which it intends should reduce some of the problems of anti-social behaviour currently experienced which are linked to alcohol consumption. There are significant partnership implications as Waverley has made it central to its work under the new legislation to put partnership working principally with Surrey Police as a key to success.

E-Government implications:

Officers propose to include details of all premises licences on Waverley’s website so that residents living near licensed premises can check which activities and the hours of activities are covered by the Waverley licence for premises.

Resource and legal implications:

There are considerable resource implications which are covered in the report, and legal implications which are still being worked through as the legislation beds in.

Introduction

1. This report follows up the report to the 10th October meeting of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee setting out the position in implementing the Act. The next stages of the implementation of the Act relate firstly to enforcement and secondly to continuing administration of licences. The Waverley Community Partnership is also supporting the work on licensing as a critical area of partnership working with Surrey Police and Surrey Fire and Rescue Service.

Enforcement Activities after 24th November

2.(a) Pro-active Enforcement

Officers have been working in a whole range of areas to ensure that the premises in Waverley that need licensing are ready after the second operative date of 24th November. This covers a range of activities as follows:-

First ensuring that all premises that need licences have applied for these – this has been done by a joint effort with Surrey Police to chase up outstanding premises.

Monitoring compliance with licence conditions will be done jointly with the Police, and will be picked up as part of the partnership approach under the Town Centre Disorder Group and its regular monthly joint inspections of licensed premises. Other Relevant Authorities may also inspect premises to ensure compliance.

There will be close liaison with Police on problem premises and regular liaison with licensees and Designated Premises Supervisors at problem premises.

Officers will work closely with Surrey Police and with licensees through the four "pub watch" groups in the Borough which cover each of the towns and Cranleigh area.

(b) Re-active Enforcement

One of the key issues that has emerged from the hearings held into variation applications is how to respond to complaints from residents, particularly about nuisance. It is likely that some of these complaints will be by telephone and late at night or early in the morning because of disturbance from additional extended hours or activities at pubs or clubs.

(c) Educating the Community

Officers will draft a protocol with Surrey Police which will be available to residents, members and licensees and set out clear processes and a staged approach to dealing with problems. It is important to explain to the community who they should complain to and how their complaint will be responded to. This is intended to be done by means of leaflets, press releases joint with the Surrey Police and through the Waverley Link magazine. It is also intended to put clear information on the website to enable people to be aware of the details of licences that are held by premises in their area and also, in future if people wish to register their complaint via the web.

(d) Licensing Administration

The major task of dealing with the 450 premises licences in the Borough is now in the final stage of issuing finally agreed licences. This in itself is a huge administrative task which involves the Licensing and Legal Teams.


(e) Temporary Event Notices

The Government has recently issued the Regulations covering Temporary Event Notices (TENS), and this is intended to be a very "light-touch" administrative process based on whether the Police make any comment on applications in the limited time available to them. It will be important to liaise closely with the Police, as again experience of hearings suggests that this could be an area where residents will be particularly worried about nuisance, even if it is short-lived. Procedures are being agreed between the Police and the Licensing Team to try to avoid problems with TENS.

(f) Existing Staffing Resources

The Licensing Team has been supplemented over the last year by 2 full time equivalent additional licensing administrators. One post is for a two-year period and the rest are for renewable one-year periods.

This additional staffing will reduce in the near future to around 1 full time equivalents and officers propose that this should be adequate, from an initial assessment of the continuing workload.

The Legal and Environmental Health Teams have accommodated the very large amount of additional work within their existing staffing resources, but this has been at the expense of other work and has only been achieved because of exceptional efforts by the staff in these teams.

(g) Future Staffing and Resources

Authorisation of Officers under the Licensing Act 2003

3. The delegation of powers so that officers may act under the new legislation is set out at Annexe 1.

Resource Implications

4. As explained above, it is difficult to forecast the likely complaints workload. However, the experience of the nearly 40 hearings for variations held so far has shown that residents living near pubs or clubs which have applied to vary their licences or extend their hours are very apprehensive about the effects of these changes on their quality of life.

5. The continuing income levels for annual fees included in the draft 2006/07 revenue estimates are an income of around 80,000 a year from the 2003 Act Licences. This should cover the additional staffing and other costs required across the Council, and associated costs such as review hearings and any resulting appeals. However, it is difficult to give confident predictions on this because of the uncertainty about the future work level.

6. Currently there are three appeals resulting from the first 35 hearings held by Sub-Committees. These are being dealt with by the Magistrates’ Court, and they produce a further heavy workload for the Legal and Licensing staff and extra legal costs.

Future Staffing Structure

7. (Exempt) Annexe 2 suggests proposals for an interim staffing structure to cope with enforcement work.

Conclusion

8. The staffing structures outlined in (Exempt) Annexe 2 may need to be enhanced and refined in the light of experience of enforcing the new licensing regime. The Licensing Team has been extremely flexible and adaptable in coping with the new service which has produced extreme peaks in workload. It will be important to be able to respond in a similarly flexible way to any future peaks in workload.

9. Existing provision in the licensing budget will cover these costs for the next year.

10. The budget position will monitored carefully to ensure that the anticipated income levels materialise and cover the Council’s extra costs.

Recommendation

The Committee is recommended to:-

1. note the proposals for continuing the licensing service to administer 2003 Act licences and for pro-active joint enforcement with Surrey Police;

2. endorse the proposals for a reactive enforcement service which would not involve an immediate late night or early morning response by Waverley staff to any complaints;

3. recommend to the Council that officers be authorised in accordance with the Licensing Act 2003 as set out in Annexe1;

4. recommend the Executive to agree the resulting staffing proposals as follows:-

(a) continuing the Temporary Licensing Administrator 0.7 part time post;

(b) the Temporary Enhancement of the Licensing Enforcement Officer post hours by 0.3 full-time equivalent;

(c) to adopt the staffing structure set out in (Exempt) Annexe 2 and resulting re-designations and re-evaluations of grading; and

(d) recommend the Council to make permanent the current two year Temporary Licensing Administrator post; and

5. ask the officers to monitor carefully the continuing workload and report regularly to the Committee on this.

Background Papers (CEx)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Robin Pellow Telephone: 01483 523222

E-mail: rpellow@waverley.gov.uk

comms/licensing/2005-06/137