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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 07/12/2004
Licensing Act 2003 - Public Consultation on the Council's Draft Statement of Licensing Policy



Summary & Purpose
The purpose of this report is to enable the Council to consider comments on the draft Statement of Licensing Policy for Waverley, against which applications for licences under the 2003 Licensing Act (the Act) will be considered. There are significant resource implications. This report has been considered by the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 15th November, and by the Licensing and Regulatory Committee at its meeting on 22nd November. Their observations are set out in the report.

Quality of Life Implications
Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe Communities
Local Economy
Natural
Resource Use
Pollution
Prevention and Control
Biodiversity
and Nature
Local
Environment
Social
Inclusion
Safe, Healthy
and Active
Communities
Local
Economy
N/A
Positive
N/A
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive


APPENDIX L

WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

EXECUTIVE - 7TH DECEMBER 2004

Title:
LICENSING ACT 2003 - PUBLIC CONSULTATION ON THE COUNCIL’S
DRAFT STATEMENT OF LICENSING POLICY

[Wards Affected: All]

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

An annexe 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 12 of Part I of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972, namely:-

Any instructions to counsel and any opinion of counsel (whether or not in connection with any proceedings) and any advice received, information obtained or action to be taken in connection with:-

(a) any legal proceedings by or against the authority, or

(b) the determination of any matter affecting the authority,

(whether, in either case, proceedings have been commenced or are in contemplation).

Summary and Purpose

The purpose of this report is to enable the Council to consider comments on the draft Statement of Licensing Policy for Waverley, against which applications for licences under the 2003 Licensing Act (the Act) will be considered. There are significant resource implications. This report has been considered by the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 15th November, and by the Licensing and Regulatory Committee at its meeting on 22nd November. Their observations are set out in the report.

Quality of life implications – social, environmental & economic (sustainable development):

E-Government implications:

There are no e-government implications in this report, although it is anticipated that the introduction of IT systems to cope with applications under the new Licensing Act 2003 will be accessible and fully e-government compliant.

Resource and legal implications:

There are no immediate resource implications in this report, but the additional work preparing for the new licensing regime has been very staff intensive. The eventual resource implications are difficult to quantify, but the Council has made provision in this year's estimates of a net additional cost of 50,000. There are legal implications for the Council in that it will need to be prepared to defend the final Policy if challenged. There are also Human Rights considerations in the new processes under this Act, and these will be taken into account.

Draft Statement of Licensing Policy - public consultation

1. The draft Statement was approved by the Council in July 2004, following which a 12-week period of public consultation has been undertaken, closing on 8th November 2004. A summary of the comments received, together with officer comments on these and proposals for change, where appropriate, were considered in detail at the Licensing and Regulatory Committee on 22nd November. A revised copy of the Policy Statement is attached as Annexe 1 which includes amendments resulting from the representations submitted during the consultation period. The Council is obliged by Statutory Instrument to have its Policy in place by 7th January 2005, and this policy has to be reviewed on application or within each three years after that.

2. The consultation process has included five open meetings, for which invitations were sent to every business on the Council’s database (approximately 500 of these), as well as Town and Parish Councils and other parties who had asked to be kept informed. These meetings were the subject of public notices posted around the Borough by the Town and Parish Councils, an article in The Link magazine and information placed on the Council’s Licensing web page. The process has been carried out with due liaison and co-operation from Surrey Police and Surrey Fire and Rescue Service.

3. There were around 50 people who came to the public meetings, which were held at various locations and different times of the day around the Borough. There have also been 25 written responses to the draft. Of these, some 13 have come from national associations and company representatives, 3 from local residents and four from parish councils.

Human Rights Implications

4. The Human Rights Act 1998 incorporated into English law the protection of human rights enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The Council must have regard to the human rights of individuals affected by its decisions. Although there are no direct implications in this report, the Council will have regard to the following matters in considering applications for licences under the Licensing Act 2003.

5. Article 1 of the First Protocol of the ECHR provides for the protection of private property and possessions. In addition to Article 1 of the First Protocol, the Council must comply with the principles of Article 6, which provides for the right to a fair hearing in determining civil rights and obligations. This necessitates a fair and public hearing undertaken within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law. In providing for determination of licensing matters by a local authority the legislation also provides for appeal to the magistrates’ court, so that there is access to an independent and impartial tribunal and a public hearing.

6. Article 8 of the Convention says that everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence. Accordingly, when making decisions on the grant of licences, the Council (Committee) will consider representations on the effect of businesses on the amenities of residents living in the vicinity of premises which benefit from the licences.

Legal Implications

7. The possible legal implications are set out in (Exempt) Annexe 2. The Council's Statement of Licensing Policy is a key framework within which the Council will consider applications. This is also made up of the four licensing objectives set out in the Act, as set out below, and guidance issued by the Secretary of State:-

Prevention of Crime and Disorder
Public Safety
Prevention of Nuisance
Protection of Children from Harm.

Crime and Disorder Implications

8. Alcohol related crime and anti-social behaviour is a significant problem in parts of the Borough. The Council will use its powers under the Licensing Act to pursue two of the key licensing objectives of preventing crime and disorder and public nuisance.

Resource Implications

9. Until the Act is in operation, it is difficult to predict staffing implications and other costs. Regulations on draft fees have just been published, which are as follows:-

Fee Duration

Personal licences 37 10 years

Premises licence and 80-500 depending on Life of business
Club Premises Certificate rateable value

Premises annual fee 40-225 depending on 1 year
rateable value

Variations 23

Temporary event notices 21 - with additional Up to 72 hours
fee for very large events in one event

10. Certain premises are proposed to be exempt from premises fees such as village, parish and school halls for providing regulated entertainment only.

11. It is not possible to predict demand for personal licences, but there are around 500 licensed premises in Waverley which will need at least one personal licence holder to be the designated premises supervisor.

12. The Government has stated that the licence fees income received should cover all Council costs, including the consultation exercise. Both this Council and the LGA are very sceptical about this.

13. In the transitional period from February to November 2005 all premises and people acting as designated premises supervisors will have to obtain new licences, both personal and premises licences. Processing these and inspecting premises will pose a major challenge. A new software system is currently being selected to help manage the process. Including the necessary hardware, this could cost around 30,000 over three years. Extra staff will be needed at least for a temporary period of 12 months initially to administer the licensing regime and inspect premises.

14. There may be significant additional calls on staff in Building Control, Environmental Health and in the Legal and Committee Sections if there are a lot of objections to premises licence variations, which may trigger a hearing by a Sub-Committee of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee.

15. The Council has already made representations through the LGA about the likely costs that will not be covered by fee income. The Council agreed a net provision of 50,000 within the 2004/05 budget to cover the difference between costs and income. This sum may well prove inadequate, particularly if the new premises applications for variations of licences prompt objections.

16. Because of the delay by Government in producing regulations, it is now likely that most of the fee income and extra work will fall in 2005/06.

17. The budgetary position for future years will continue to be a problem. Fee income will fall off significantly after the initial round of applications for new licences, but public expectations of continuing enforcement of the new regime will mean that some extra staff will be needed beyond the first year.

Staffing

18. Extra staff will be needed in the Committee Section to cope with the peak of applications. Officer propose appointing one Administrative Assistant and up to two Licensing Enforcement/Inspection Officers for 12 months. The costs would be as follows:-

Licensing Administrative Assistant - Scale 9 - Full cost for 12 months of 21,000.

Two Licensing Enforcement/Inspection Officers - Scale 9 - Full cost for 12 months (including travel and out of hours supplement) - 26,000 (x2).

19. Once the workload position on other staff is clearer, officers will report again about any further implications for other sections of the Council.
Observations from Committees

20. The Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee considered the comments received during the consultation period at its meeting on 15th November. The Committee had no particular observations to pass to the Executive, but was content to know that the Licensing and Regulatory Committee would be considering the comments received in some detail alongside the draft statement at its meeting the following week.

21. The Licensing and Regulatory Committee subsequently met on 22nd November and wished to make the following observations to the Executive in respect of the draft policy statement, that:

i) whilst it recognises that there is no provision in the legislation for this, the Committee would wish to see greater involvement of Town and Parish Council provided for by regulations; and that Parish Councils should be able to trigger a review of a premises licence should it be considered necessary; and

ii) a close working relationship with the Local Strategic Partnership should be maintained to assist in the formulation of evidence and improved record-keeping which could be used to trigger a review of particular licensed premises should there be a local demand forthcoming.

22. The Committee acknowledged that it would endeavour to adopt a proactive approach to the new licensing regime, but accepted that this approach needed to be modified as a result of the consultation responses received to recognise the limitations in the legislation and regulations.

Recommendation

It is recommended that:-

1. the final version of the Statement of Licensing Policy for Waverley be recommended to the Council for approval and be formally adopted in time for the deadline of 7th January 2005; and

2. the resource implications set out in the report, be agreed.

Background Papers (CEx)

Draft Statement of Licensing Policy and representations received in response to the consultation.

CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Mrs R Hughes Telephone: 01483 523225

E-mail: rhughes@waverley.gov.uk

comms/executive/2004-2005/309