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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee held on 13/01/2003
TRANSFER OF RESPONSIBLIITY FOR LIQUOR LICENSING TO WAVERLEY



This report sets out an initial view of the implications of the radical changes to liquor licensing set out in the Licensing Bill 2002. It could have major resource implications, which are not yet clear.
APPENDIX C

WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

LICENSING AND REGULATORY COMMITTEE – 13TH JANUARY 2003
EXECUTIVE – 14TH JANUARY 2003

Title:
TRANSFER OF RESPONSIBLIITY FOR LIQUOR LICENSING TO WAVERLEY

[Wards Affected: N/A]

Summary and Purpose

This report sets out an initial view of the implications of the radical changes to liquor licensing set out in the Licensing Bill 2002. It could have major resource implications, which are not yet clear.

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Introduction

1. The Government consulted Councils in 2000 and has continued to consult with Councils and the liquor industry for the past two years on a proposal to transfer responsibility for liquor licensing (pubs, clubs and off licences) from the Licensing Justices to District Councils and to set up a new integrated licensing regime to cover liquor, public entertainment, late night refreshment and other related issues.

2. A Bill to achieve this was included in the Queens Speech of 13th November, with a likely transfer date of Summer 2004. This will have major implications for Waverley.

Background

3. The proposal initially flowed from three Government policy areas:-

a) The better regulation of industry initiative, with the aim of streamlining the current antiquated liquor licensing laws; and saving significant costs for the industry hospitality and leisure

b) Tourism promotion – the aim of introducing a more relaxed ‘continental’ licensing regime to encourage tourism.

c) Crime and Disorder - A more coherent approach to liquor and public entertainment licensing; the transfer to District Councils should help combat nuisance and anti-social behaviour and help protect young people.

Copies of the Department of Culture, Media and Sports summaries of the regulatory impact assessment and draft guidance are attached as Annexes 1 and 2.


Timescale

4. The best indication of timescale at present for the effective date of transferring responsibility is Summer 2004, with a possible transitional period from the end of 2003.

5. An outline rough guide to the Bill and action checklist produced by the LGA are attached as Annexes 3 and 4.

Licensing Regime

6. The Government is simultaneously transferring responsibility for liquor licensing to District Councils and introducing wide ranging changes to the current system.

7. It will be a significant challenge for both Waverley, other key players such as Surrey Police and Fire and Rescue Service and the trade to cope with these two elements of major change.

Implications for Waverley

8. The transfer will have significant corporate implications, including

decision-making processes – for Members’ and Officers’ support for the Licensing and Regulatory Committee; strategic implications especially for town centres - the stated aim is part of both the Government’s stated intention of reducing anti-social behaviour, and a key part of the CPA assessment of clean and green public spaces administrative processes - the additional administration for the Licensing Team will be considerable;

inspection – both Building Control and Environmental Health sections may have a significant increase in the number of inspection of premises they have to carry out. consultation and liaison – is expected to be necessary with trade organisations and other local authorities,

Resource Implications

9. During initial consultation the Government suggested that the extra cost to councils of this service will be covered by licence fees, which will be set centrally by the legislation. However, it seems very likely that the full costs of the service will not be covered by fees income, and it is not clear if there will be any compensating increase in grant. Guildford Borough Council has estimated a net cost of 50,000 in a full year, and Waverley’s costs will be close to these. The LGA is leading a national campaign with the aim either of allowing Councils to set their own fees or the Government reimbursing any extra costs through extra grant.

10. The staffing implications will consist of extra administrative staff in the Licensing Team (including enforcement) and additional workload for Legal, Building Control and Environmental Health staff. As far as we know, Waverley will not be receiving any transferred staff from the Licensing Justices. From experience in Scotland, it may be that Waverley will need at least two extra full time staff centrally with knock-on effects on the workload of sections which are already stretched to cover their current workloads and inspection targets. These possible significant resource implications were flagged up in the fundamental service review of licensing.

Other information gleaned to date

11. The new Bill had its second reading on 25th November 2002 and is due to have the third reading by March 2003. It is quite possible that its detailed provisions will change in its passage through Parliament.

Policy Implications for Waverley

12. The change offers an opportunity for Waverley to take a proactive approach to liquor licensing in conjunction with partner organisations. Waverley has to set out a clear vision for the future of liquor licensing, particularly in town centres, which fits in with its corporate vision and evolving community strategy. The government expects Councils to demonstrate that their licensing policy is properly integrated with local strategies for:

crime prevention
planning
transport
tourism
culture

The transfer of responsibility has significant implications for Waverley’s role in preventing crime and disorder.

Recommendations

13. It is difficult until the Bill progresses further to assess the full implications for Waverley, but as an interim the Officer Licensing Group recommends:

i) a footnote to the Licensing and Regulatory Committee revenue estimates for 2003/04 explaining the potential major part-year revenue implications which cannot yet be quantified;

ii) re-enforcing to the Executive the need for the bid for a half-time Licensing Enforcement post.

iii) as Waverley is covered by Guildford Licensing Justices, agreeing to approach Guildford Borough Council to open joint discussions with the Justices on arrangements for transfer; and

iv) accelerating the development of closer links with Surrey Police and Fire included in the FSR action plan and establishing a local licensing forum, with representatives from all parties, organisations and including the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee.


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Background Papers (CEx)

LGA briefing of November 2002.
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CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Mrs R Hughes Telephone: 01483 523225
E-mail: rhughes@waverley.gov.uk
Mr R Pellow Telephone: 01483 523222
E-mail: rpellow@waverley.gov.uk


comms/licensing/2002-03/030 33016